by Rowan Zhao
This is the forty-eighth contribution to our Welsh Keywords series – inspired by Raymond Williams’ Keywords – which offers perspectives on words in Welsh and how shifting meanings continue to shape our society.
Believe it or not, the inspiration behind this discussion was a doormat. Yes, a humble brown ‘Croeso’ doormat that you would rub your shoes on and then walk over without giving a second thought. Except on that occasion, I did. Whereas it looked so natural at the front of the café in Cardiff that I was entering, surely it would look a little out of place if a mat saying ‘Croeso’ lay at the doorstep of a café in, say, the Cotswolds, and not only because ‘croeso’ is a Welsh word, but also because of the sentiment itself. Commercially, it no doubt is a concept strongly associated with Welshness, as croeso would certainly count among the most popular buzzwords related to Welsh tourism, alongside the likes of cwtch/cwtsh, Cymru, cartref, and cariad. Browse any souvenir shop that marks itself as ‘Welsh’, and you’ll find croeso printed on mugs, coasters, heart-shaped decorative hangings, and especially doormats. Tourist cliché aside, however, is there any deeper, more ‘authentic’ connection between this particular word and the culture of Wales that qualifies it as a keyword?Sign in to read more