story,  Wales

Christmas Wren Hunting in Wales – Hela Dryw

Hela Dryw – Hunting the Wren is a Welsh Christmas tradition enacted on Twelfth Night. Villagers hunted and killed the wren and carried its body in a decorated ‘house’. They called from door to door and people paid money to peep at the dead bird:

The wren is no longer killed today for Hela Dryw (or Hela’r Dryw as it’s sometimes called). Using a Nokia N93, I filmed this re-enactment at the National Welsh Folk Museum’s Nadolig festival last week.


  • Julian Wormald

    I found this site after researching wren hunts today (11 01 10). I already know about the custom after hearing about it 3 years ago when researching Carmarthenshire Wassail cups for a wassail party, and I subsequently turned 2 wooden wassail cups with 12 handles for same event.
    Last week, I was shutting the door of our cowshed at dusk, the day after 12th night, when a wren flew across our yard towards me, landed on my gloved hand, and then flew off again, almost immediately. Never , ever, in 52 years, having had a wild bird land on me , I was struck by the magical synchronicity of the fact that it was a wren, we live in Carms., and it was the day after 12th night.

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