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An Alternative to Valentine's: St Dwynwen's Day

The New Year often heralds break ups but it's not long now till romantic Valentine's Day and the opportunity to express your love to that special someone. But don't be disheartened if you feel Cupid's turned a blind eye and you've no one to spend the occasion with — you're not alone! The 25th of January is the day of St Dwynwen, the Welsh Saint of love (and so the Welsh equivalent of Valentine's day). The story of St Dwynwen is not all roses and in her sainthood she's said to aid those who experience the sadness love can sometimes bring.

It's said that in her youth, the beautiful Dwynwen fell madly in love with a man named Maelon. He liked her too, but it soon became apparent that they had an irreconcilable difference in their feelings towards one another: he wanted them to sleep together but she wanted to preserve her virtue and wait until after they were married. When she told him this, Maelon was enraged and forced himself upon her. Devastated, Dwynwen fled to the forest to weep alone and beseech God for solace. There she encountered an angel who gave her a vial of magic potion which dispersed her love for Maelon and froze him into a statue of ice. She was also granted three wishes. With the first she wished never to marry, with the second she asked to become the patron saint of lovers that she might aid others through the trials of love, and with the last, still loving despite her pain, she had Maelon unfrozen. After this, Dwynwen became a nun. She built a church on the island of Anglesey, the Church of Dwynwen, Llanddwynwen in Welsh, and, true to her wish, she never married.

This version is thought to be closer to the truth, but there is also one in which her father forbids her from marrying Maelon and this is the cause of her sorrowful escape to the woods. You can find an account of this version here.

The prayer of St Dwynwen goes thus:
Saint Dwyn,
We beseech thee,
Comfort lovers whose vision is unclear. 
Send mending to those with love lost. 
Protect our companions.
In your name, we seek to do the same. 
In your name, we choose love first.

My own suggestion for getting round Valentine loneliness is to induce karma by following the golden rule and doing unto someone else as you would wish to have done unto you. I like to send someone a valentine gift, even if I cannot count on receiving as much myself. Do this in a spirit of selfless love and you'll feel better immediately, plus your generosity will come back to you sooner or later!

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