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Love: An assembly with a Welsh flavour - St Dwynwen's Day (25 January)

To consider love as something we do as well as feel.

by Manon Ceridwen Parry

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider love as something we do as well as feel.

Preparation and materials

  • St Dwynwen’s Day is the Welsh St Valentine’s Day. This assembly could be adapted to be used around St David’s Day (1 March) as well as for St Valentine’s Day.
  • A love spoon or a picture of one. The origin and a picture of a love spoon can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovespoon
  • Familiarize yourself with the story as outlined below. Children could tell the story, or act it out.

Assembly

  1. Explain that in Wales there is an alternative to St Valentine’s Day. Some people in Wales send each other cards and gifts on 25 January, the feast day of Dwynwen, who is Wales’ patron saint of love. In schools in Wales children often have parties and discos to celebrate this day.
  2. Dwynwen grew up in Brecon, South Wales, during the fifth century. She was one of the daughters of Brychan, a legendary Welsh king. (He had a large number of children, possibly as many as 36. Several of his children have been regarded as saints, and throughout Wales there are places named after them.)

    It is said that a man called Maelon, from the north, wanted to marry Dwynwen, and she was in love with him, but Brychan would not allow the marriage. Dwynwen, not wanting to go against her father, called the wedding off. Maelon was very angry with her, which scared her so she prayed to be protected. As a result of her prayer, Maelon was turned into ice!

    An angel came and Dwynwen made three requests. The first was that poor Maelon should be unfrozen! The second was that she would never marry. And the third was that she would be able to help other people who were also unlucky in love.

    Dwynwen became a nun, and with some of her brothers and sisters, went all over Wales telling the people about Christianity. Dwynwen settled in Llanddwyn, a small tidal island off the south-west coast of Anglesey, where her church became a place of pilgrimage for people who were ill, and for men and women in love.

    People still visit Dwynwen’s church at Llanddwyn. For centuries it has been a place people visit if they are having problems with their relationships.
  3. As well as a special love story (though not a very happy one!) Wales also has a tradition to do with love – the love spoon.

    A love spoon is a beautifully carved wooden spoon. (Show a spoon, or a picture of one.) The earliest remaining spoon dates from 1667 and can be found in St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff.

    When a young man fell in love, he would carve the spoon himself and give it to the woman he loved. If she accepted the spoon, they became a couple.

    Men would sometimes compete with one another, each trying to create the most elaborate and intricately carved spoon in the hope of winning the love of a popular woman! They would carefully carve small shapes of familiar objects, symbols of their feelings and hopes (a heart for love, a cross for faith, bells for a wedding). (You may like to talk through some of the symbols on your spoon.)

    The gift of a love spoon was meant to prove that the man was practical and able to look after a family and earn a good living. The spoon was a practical demonstration of love.
  4. Very often, love is talked about in the Bible as something we do as well as feel. On St Valentine’s Day we often give cards and presents to show our love for someone. The love spoon similarly shows the importance of doing practical things to show our love.

    So how can we show our love for our families and friends today?

    Suggest that to show our love we might like to think of doing one special thing for someone else (the washing up; helping a friend to clear up their desk in school?).
  5. Dwynwen’s story tells us that not every love story has a happy ending! But love as found in the Bible is not so much about what other people can do for us and give us as about what we can do and give to other people.

Time for reflection

Encourage the children to look at the spoon, or the picture of the love spoon, and think quietly about what these words from the Bible might mean for them:

 

‘Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.’ (1 Corinthians 13: 4–6 NRSV)

‘Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God: everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.’ (1 John 4:7 NRSV)

Prayer
Dear God,
help us to love in actions as well as words.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Love will never come to an end’ (Come and Praise, 99)

Publication date: January 2013   (Vol.15 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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