Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Eisteddfod


The National Eisteddfod is a festival of music, performance and literature held annually in Wales. Since 1947, it takes place every July in either North or South Wales. Such meetings of mainly Welsh artists date back to the 12th century, because in 1176 Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubrath held a festival of poetry and music at his court in Cardigan. He invited musicians and poets from all over the country and attracted them by offering a seat at his table to the best poet and musician. Unfortunately with the decline of the bardic tradition, the festival fell into oblivion. However, thanks to an eighteen-century revival of many informal Eisteddfodau, the tradition, as it still exists today, could be reintroduced. Originally, the entire festival was intended for aristocratic public only and only professional Welsh bards could take part in the competitions. But then the interest in the Welsh arts declined and the main Eisteddfod became more informal, so that later on common people were allowed to watch and take part in the competitions. By the way, the word eisteddfod, which probably hardly anyone of us can pronounce correctly, is a blend of the two Welsh words eistedd, meaning to sit, and bod, meaning to be. It stands thus for “to be sitting” (bod has gradually mutated into fod), which refers to the act of sitting while watching the competitions. Nowadays professional artists from all over the world, such as Luciano Pavarotti, attend the International Eisteddfod, which is held annually in Llangollen. Arts competition and more than 50,000 performances are held during the 6 days of the festival. Visitors can see all the musicians and dancers marching the streets on a parade. But there are also many other local Eisteddfodau organised in Wales and, as strange as it may sound, Eisteddfodau are also hold in Australia and in Argentina. In fact, Welsh colonists inhabited both countries for some time and Welsh communities have wanted to revive their forefather’s traditions ever since. The Australian Eisteddfodau are much like the Welsh original, except that winning an Australian Eisteddfod may give you the opportunity to receive a scholarship to pursue a further career. The most popular one is the Rock Eisteddfod, which 40,000 students from 400 schools participate in each year. As far as Argentina is concerned, Welsh settlers introduced Eisteddfodau there in the late nineteenth century and currently, competitions are bilingual (Welsh-Spanish). Moreover, many other cultural events in Great Britain show similarities to an Eisteddfod, for instance the Scottish Gaelic Mod. This year, the National Eisteddfod is going to take place in Ebbw Vale (South Wales) from 31 July to 7 August 2010 and the whole region is welcoming the festival. Eisteddfod 2010 in Ebbw Vale is sure to be a success!

C├ęcile Duterme & Jessica Meyer

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