Hey Mr. Urdd, in your red, white and green: who the hell are you?
If you live in or around the Caerphilly area you might’ve noticed something odd is happening. Everywhere you turn, children are hitting harps, butchering folk songs and speaking tongues (sometimes in a creepy unison) and begging their parents to join the
Urdd. But don’t fear, they are not joining a Satanic cult, nor a strange Hitler-youth organisation, they are participating in arguably the largest youth festival in Europe: The Urdd National Eisteddfod, a celebration of Welsh arts, language and culture. This article is here to break this down for you and tell you exactly what it’s all about.
Urdd Gobaith Cymru or Order of Welsh Hope and/or Youth, is a Welsh-medium youth movement founded in 1922 by Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards in order to preserve Welsh language and culture and to nurture it in Welsh youth.
It manifests itself in many ways, most visually as Mr. Urdd, an anthropomorphized version of the classic triangular Urdd Logo, you might often see him wandering around public events, making a fool of himself and collecting money to fund various Urdd endeavours
(usually the Eisteddfod itself). The Urdd also has three main youth hostels/destinations:
- Gwersyll yr Urdd Llangrannog: A place where Welsh students go to take part in a number of fun activities, such as Skiing, go-karting and terrible, terrible discos.
- Gwersyll yr Urdd Glan Llyn: Much like Llangrannog, Glan Llyn is an outdoor adventure site, set beside a large lake from which it takes its name. Considering its location, many of the activities take place upon the lake and is a great place for Welsh youth to have fun with their friends.
- Gwersyll yr Urdd Caerdydd: Basically just a youth hostel in Cardiff bay. They can’t all be fun.
The Eisteddfod (don’t ask me for an English translation) is an annual Welsh arts festival that finds its roots in the 12th century when a festival of poetry and music was held by Rhys ap Gruffydd. There are two main Eisteddfods, the National Eisteddfod (for both young and older competitors) and the Urdd Eisteddfod (comprising of just school-age Urdd members). They compete in a number of fields, music, art, poetry and drama being the main focus. Have you ever wanted to see a choir of children reciting, not singing, but reciting a poem in unison? Well the Eisteddfod is the place for you. Come to see all of the great performances, stay for the free pens.
This year, the Urdd National Eisteddfod is being held in Caerphilly county so if you’re local, now is the best time to check it out and be part of the action.