Although I’m not much into eating sweets and chocolates, I couldn’t help but LOVE this picture on Pinterest.  http://pinterest.com/yollandglass/ is my fun only pinterest location!  It was put up there by Delicious Delicious Delicious – what an appropriate name for a blog.   Here’s the full link;  http://deliciousdeliciousdelicious.blogspot.com.au/

They take you on a step by step process of how to make this elegant, fun and pretty teaspoon of delight.    Seeing this teaspoon reminded me of the welsh love spoon that we were given for our engagement gift several years ago by our cousin who lives in Amanford, Carmarthenshire in Southern Wales.

The Celtic tradition was to give a Lovespoon, carved with 2 hearts, as a symbol of lasting commitment one to another.

Welsh love spoon

The two hearts can be side by side or they can be above one another as you can see here.

The lovespoon was given to a young woman by her suitor.

It was important for the girl’s father to see that the young man was capable of providing for the family and woodworking.

Sailors would often carve lovespoons during their long journeys, which is why anchors would often be incorporated into the carvings.

Although the Welsh lovespoon is the most famous there are also traditions of lovespoons in Scandinavia and some parts of Eastern Europe, which have their own unique styles and techniques.  Some of the early love spoons can be seen on display at the Welsh Folk Museum in Cardiff.

The young man would spend hours carving the spoon with his own hands, in the hope that the girl would accept it. If the girl accepted the spoon, she would demonstrate her interest in him and they would commence on a relationship, which is the origin of the word ‘spooning’.

This was a custom that was not confined to Wales, but happened across Europe, especially in Celtic countries. Because the rural peasant people used wooden spoons to eat and prepare food, they had to carve numerous simple spoons for this purpose. It is very likely therefore that more intricate carvings developed naturally from this, and the most beautiful spoons were kept to give as gifts.

Young men had a lot of time on their hands during the long winter evenings, and while some would turn to poetry or composing songs, others would carve all kinds of things such as kitchen utensils or toys for the children from spare pieces of wood.

It is easy to imagine a young man after a hard day’s work, in a period of no radio or television or cars, spending his leisure time during dark evenings carving a spoon for the girl he loved. Spoons could also suggest food on the table, and a cosy family life, which would impress on the girl his ability to care for her and a family.

Wales was a poor society whose youth could not afford presents of expensive jewellery, and therefore they would do their utmost to create as beautiful spoons as possible.

At that time, practical skills in a husband would have been very desirable and a beautifully carved spoon would demonstrate the young man’s skills. The carvers would attempt to create more and more intricate designs as they vied for the attractions of a certain girl. The more complicated and difficult to carve a design, the more it would symbolise the depth of the creator’s love and desire to labour on behalf of his loved one. It is also possible that the size of the spoon would reflect the carver’s love, but the spoons do vary considerably in size from 8cm to a meter in length.

The first example of the word “llwy” (which is ‘spoon’ in Welsh) appears in the work of Taliesin, the 6th century Welsh poet, which suggests that such a utensil existed for centuries before the first existing tangible example. Wooden utensils used in kitchens would not have a very long life and very few original wooden work utensils have survived from a period earlier than the 18th century.

The custom was widespread across Wales and there is no evidence to suggest that certain areas favoured certain designs. It is impossible to know how many love spoons were produced; many were very delicate creations and although they would not have been used for eating or cooking they could have been easily broken. The earliest existing examples come from the 17th century, and it is possible that the shape of spoons lying together suggested the pattern of lovers lying together.

There has been much debate on the significance of the different symbols and motifs used in the carving of lovespoons. Many of the young carvers were shy and unwilling to show their emotions, and this would attempt to convey their true feelings through the use of various symbols. Over the centuries, many more symbols and motifs have been added and as the love spoons became more elaborate and decorative, they have become collectables.

Many of the symbols to convey love have been used from the earliest spoons, and are familiar throughout Europe. For instance, a chain would mean a wish to be together forever, a diamond would mean wealth or good fortune, a cross would mean faith, a flower would mean affection, or a dragon for protection etc.

It must be remembered that the custom of ‘engaging’ and having a Wedding ceremony was not common in rural Wales until the end of the 18th century, and the majority of young couples would simply co-habit.

Today as well as being a gift of affection or a memento of a visit to Wales, Lovespoons are given for many special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, births, engagements, christenings, house warming and St. Valentines Day.

this one here was made for 50th birthday celebrations.

Many of the young carvers were shy and unwilling to show their emotions, and this would attempt to convey their true feelings through the use of various symbols. Over the centuries, many more symbols and motifs have been added and as the love spoons became more elaborate and decorative, they have become collectables.

BELL Weddings or Anniversaries or Together in Harmony.

BALL IN CAGE Love held safe or number of children

BIRDS Love birds or Lets go away together. Stork represents a new birth.

CHAIN A wish to be together forever or, Number of children.

CROSS A wish to have faith in Christ Jesus or, A wish to be bound together in Christ or A wish for God to bless.

DIAMOND Wealth or Good fortune.

HEART Love.

HORSESHOE Good luck

KEY/ KEYHOLE Security or I shall look after you.

KNOT / CELTIC KNOTWORK Eternal love or Together forever or Everlasting.

LOCK Security or, I shall look after you

TWISTED STEM Two live become as one, or, Togetherness.

DRAGON Protection or Symbol of Wales.

Maybe we should have given this love spoon as a birthday present to our daughter who was recently 21.

Limewood (tilia/linden/basswood) is usually sourced from Monmouthshire, south Wales. The wood is pale in colour and very uniform in character. It is lighter and easier to carve than walnut or oak, it is easily worked, and has very little grain, and a density of 560kg per cubic metre. It is a very popular wood for intricate carving, and is a favourite with the famous wood carver Paul Curtis.

I simply adore this blog and these pictures – thanks Mr D from Cardiff, Wales.

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0 Comments
  1. Love those chocolate love spoons. Thanks for passing on the pictures!!

    • Author
      Jenie Yolland 9 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. I just wrote on your blog! Yours is a great fun blog…ahh chocolates explained – congratulations on your Award. Keep up the good work. I also love your neat and easy to read display. Thanks for commenting on my blog jen.

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