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As early as the year 700 A.D, Christmas was considered one of the three main festivals of the year in Wales--along with Epiphany and Easter. St. Augustine introduced the Anglo-Saxons to the celebration as part of their conversion to Christianity circa 600 A.D. Within a few years of St. Augustine's arrival, 10,000 British people converted to the faith, with many more to follow in the years to come. Today in Wales, celebrants await the arrival of "Welsh Father Christmas" by singing traditional songs in wonderful esteddfods, or "carol songs". Trained singers lead the event, but everyone in the village joins in. Another tradition is the church service of the Plygain, which begins at 4:00 a.m. Christmas morning and lasts until sunrise. Later in the day, many Welsh indulge in taffy-pulling after opening their gifts from "Father Christmas". The jolly old gent arrived with his basketful of gifts, bearing his own little Christmas tree and a halo of holly around his head. His flowing red cloak protects a robe of rich material covered with golden stars-- and "Welsh Father Christmas" looks ready to join in the musical cele- bration: he has his own horn tucked in the green sash of his robe! At his feet are more gifts he plans to distribute: what a jolly visitor for Christmas morning!
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