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As we trudge into the second half of January, with Christmas festivities all but a distant memory (apart from our waistlines) and signs of spring still yet to appear, who can blame us for looking for another reason to celebrate? The mornings are still dark and cold, and those of us commuting to work or on the school run find ourselves scraping frosty windscreens before heading out.
Santes Dwynwen, Welsh patron saint of lovers to the rescue. Hurray. Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen (Saint Dwynwen’s Day) is celebrated here in Wales on 25th January. So what can you do to show affection for your lover (or hey, why not any one of your family or friends that you love)?
Say it with chocolates? No thanks, I’m on a diet after overindulging at Christmas.
Flowers? No, did that last year.
Jewellery? Umm, I’m still a bit skint after Christmas.
Yes, a spoon. In Wales, we like to express our affection by giving our loved ones a wooden spoon. But not the sort you stir your soup with. These ones are for blending two hearts together.
The oldest surviving example of a Welsh lovespoon dates to around 1667, though, probably, the practice of carving these spoons began much earlier.
Young Welsh men would carve a spoon from a single piece of wood to give to their loved ones as a gesture of their affection and intentions. If the young woman accepted the gift of the spoon, it was viewed as an intention or commitment to get married.
The spoons would include various carved symbols which all had different meanings. Thus a young man could carve his personal story of love and wishes for his future into the spoon. You can see the attraction here, especially for any man who found it difficult to express his feelings in words.
So what are the meanings of the symbols carved into Welsh lovespoons?
Many different symbols have traditionally been carved into Welsh lovespoons. Here are some of the most popular ones and their meanings:
Anchor – security/desire to settle down
Balls/spheres enclosed in a cage – the number of balls represent the number of children hoped for
Bells – wedding / marriage / anniversary
Celtic knotwork/knot – eternal/everlasting love
Cross – faith
Diamond – wealth / good fortune
Dragon – protection / symbolising Wales
Hearts – love
Horseshoe – good luck
Key / keyhole / lock – security / home / looking after you
Twisted stems – togetherness / two lives becoming one
Wheel – working for / supporting you
Today, lovespoons aren’t just for young lovers but are gifted to celebrate many different special occasions.
If the thought of brushing up on your school woodwork skills and carving your own lovespoon doesn’t appeal then not worry, help is at hand.
There are talented craftspeople across Wales who are still carrying on this tradition. Would you like to include unique symbols that are special to you or the person or couple you’re giving the spoon to? Then why not get a bespoke spoon crafted?
Not keen on wood? Lovespoons are also available in different materials, including glass.