Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Plygain’

Storytelling Starters – In the Spirit of Christmas 3

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Just one week to go before Christmas Eve, which was my mother’s birthday. Each year the day brings memories of hilarious hours in the kitchen with my mother stuffing the turkey and massaging it with butter, making extra supplies of mince pies and sausage rolls and preparing vegetables for the Christmas dinner.

Another feature of my growing-up Christmases was getting out of bed in the shivering cold in time to get to Plygain, the 6 a.m. Christmas service at the chapel we used to attend, which was Tabernacl Chapel in St. David’s. Plygain is a traditional service which still takes place at cock-crow in quite a few different parts of Wales. On your way to Plygain, the sky is still dark. By the time you come out, wishing everyone “Nadolig Llawen”, “Happy Christmas”, the light is just coming into the sky.

By tradition, anyone who comes to the Plygain service in St. David’s can take part if they wish by giving a reading, a prayer or a Christmas carol. The last time I told the Baboushka story, which is my offering here today, was at a Plygain service.


The Baboushka story is Russian, ‘baboushka’ being the word for an old woman who, in a sense, is everyone’s grandmother. I love the story because it’s not just about giving, though this is its central theme. It’s also about the ability to change. ‘I’m too old to change,’ my father used often to say after he retired. Then in the last years of his life he began saying a different thing: ‘You’re never too old to change.’ It seems to me this is a useful approach in these difficult times. (more…)