The exact origin of love-spoon making is not clear, but what is clear is that they were given as a token of love and affection, according to the National Museum of Wales. The oldest known love spoon dates back to the year 1667 except that experts believe the love spoon carving tradition pre-dates this. Spoons made out of wood were used traditionally for domestic purposes in mostly farming communities in Wales. What is intriguing is that these spoons did not have the same design, which is a characteristic it shares with other unique tokens.
Young male suitors crafted these spoons and presented them to young maidens they were romantically interested in. These suitors skillfully carved unique love spoons to demonstrate the extent of their love and maidens treasured these spoons for specifically this reason. Tools such as small pocket knives and close grain woods such as sycamore were all a love smitten male suitor needed to carve a love spoon. Some believe the tradition begun with sailors that were in long sea voyages far away from loved ones. They probably did it to pass the time as they sailed long distances. An alternative explanation is that young men carved these spoons during the winter months to pass time, but it is not yet clear when the tradition begun.
If you examine the spoons, you will notice that they tend to have two or more bowls. Some believe that this is meant to signal the union of the two love birds or to indicate a desire to have children. Spoons that have balls carved within cages could be a sign that a man is held captive in love or represent the number of children the carver desires. Other ornate spoon designs have wide necks with floral carvings, key holes, heart shaped bowls and more.
Love spoons were part of the druidic tradition in Wales according to Hughes in his book, "A Druid's Handbook to the Spiritual Power of Plants; Spagyrics in Magical and Sexual Rituals." He says that the woods that were used to make the spoons were selected in the same manner wood for making wands was chosen. For instance, love spoons with healing and protection attributes were made from the ash tree wood and spoons with wisdom attributes from the hazel tree and so on.
Today these spoons are mostly appreciated as souvenirs or as a love tokens that people buy when they visit Wales or online. They are often given as gifts all over the world for weddings, anniversaries, engagements and birthdays. People hang them on walls or put them on glass displays instead of using them for eating. The modern designs carved on these spoons have changed drastically including their meanings or signs. However, just like wands, you may be able to find people who carve these spoons and infuse them with protective essence.
What persists to this day in Wales is that during St. Dwynwen's Day on January 25th, lovers exchange love spoons instead of chocolates or flowers. It is a special day set aside to celebrate St. Dwynwen who just happens to be the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
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