tales of the mabinogi · welsh week

Tales of the Mabinogi: Red Dragon


Yes, it’s another Welsh Week post! And, it’s not only that either. It’s also a Tales of the Mabinogi post!

(Look at me killing two birds with one stone!)

Anyway, this week I’m going to focus on one of the most famous Welsh emblems – the Red DragonYep, we have dragons here in Wales because they’re awesome. The Red Dragon, or Y Ddraig Gochis also the symbol on our flag so I figured I’d explain to you guys why exactly that is.

The Red Dragon has been a Welsh symbol for centuries, and one of the first times its seen is in the Mabinogi. In the story, it fights an invading white dragon, and it’s shrieks are causing bad things e.g. women are miscarrying, crops aren’t growing and animals are dying. So, the king at the time decides to get the dragons drunk on mead before imprisoning them in Snowdonia. Problem sorted.

However, it doesn’t end there. Centuries later, King Vortigern tries to build a castle on this spot in Snowdonia, but the castle keeps crumbling. A wizard (probably Merlin) tells him about the dragons buried beneath, and so the king frees the dragons. The two continue to fight and, finally, the red dragon beats the white dragon. The wizard tells the king that the red dragon symbolises his people (the Welsh), and that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons (the English).

The red dragon became a symbol for a king named Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon in the 7th century, and was later used by Henry VII while he was in Wales. The Welsh flag finally became official in 1959, after being used on several coats of arms and other flags in Wales.

So there you have it. Our flag is a red dragon essentially because of the rivalry with the English. Who knew?


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