Christmas customs: Toffee Making

Miss Gretta Jones, Parc, Bala pouring the toffee

Noson Gyflaith (Toffee Evening) was a traditional part of Christmas or New Year festivities in some areas of north Wales earlier this century. Families, in their turn, would invite friends to their homes for supper, usually in the form of a Christmas dinner, and it would be followed by merriment, playing games, making toffee, and storytelling.

When the required ingredients had boiled to a certain degree, the toffee was poured onto a well-greased slate or stone slab. The hearth-stone itself was used for this purpose in some houses. Members of the happy gathering would then cover their hands with butter and attempt to 'pull' the toffee while it was quite warm. It was a skilled art to 'pull' and twist the toffee until it became golden yellow in colour. Both the skilled and unskilled would take part-the one being a source of envy, the other a source of banter.

Toffee-making was also practised in parts of south Wales, especially in the coal-mining areas. As far as we know, it was not associated here with a particular festive occasion, but housewives were known to sell itfrom their homes or on local market stalls. It was known by various names such as taffi, dant, or 'fanny', or indeed it could be known by the name of the person who made it, e.g. losin Magws, or losin Ansin bach. Children would buy it - a six inch strip or two ounces for a penny.

The Recipe

Comments (2)

Comments are currently unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience.
24 December 2021, 19:18
My Nain used to make taffy inPatagonia.
6 January 2016, 16:19
My Dad would often make "treacle toffee" for us when we were children - it cooled in a baking tin and we had to hit it with the rolling pin to get it out. He was born and brought up in Llanrwst and I often wonder where the recipe came from - Mum never made it, it was always Dad. It must have been something made in his own home by his mother. Wish I had asked him the question!