By: Mike Hawe
Wales is a fantastic place to visit and explore, and has a great culture and history too! One of the great joys of traveling is the discovery of unique traditions that have stood the test of time to become icons of the place you are visiting.
While recently visiting Wales, I had the chance to learn about a unique part of Welsh culture: the tradition of Love Spoons, or “Llwy” in the Welsh language. Love Spoons have been a part of Welsh culture for hundreds of years, and we are walking you through them in this blog!
I first encountered the love spoon on a recent visit to the Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel in North Wales. This amazing boutique hotel is steeped in Welsh traditions and hospitality. When I was handed my room key, I was surprised to see it was attached to the Love Spoon. Intrigued with this unique feature to your run-of-the-mill room keys, I decided I had to learn more.
The Love Spoon is a traditional symbol of love and affection, with a distinct Celtic history. Male suitors would labor over the long, dark winters carving a piece of wood with symbols of their hopes and dreams for their beloved. While every spoon is somewhat unique, a number of common symbols began to surface. Among the more popular are:
- A heart, the traditional love symbol
- A length of chain or rope, for strong, lasting togetherness
- A diamond, for wealth and prosperity
- A wheel, common among sailors, to indicate a safe course through life
- A series of balls within a box, (some tricky wood-working for sure!) to indicate the number of children the suitor wished for
- A cross, to indicate Faith
- A horseshoe, for good luck
Now, the Love Spoons are more of a tourist treasure than marriage proposal, but it makes a great gift to bring home from your Wales vacation. In Wales, the Love Spoons are still popular gifts for Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and even as baby gifts. If you’d like to see a collection of some of the best examples of this ancient art, we suggest you drop in at the National History Museum St. Fagan’s near Cardiff.
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