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This ancient token of betrothal lives on as a Valentine's Day gift in Wales.

Suitors in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia once professed their affections using a wooden spoon. This 17th-century courtship ritual allowed young men to demonstrate their woodworking craft while offering their beloved a useful, household tool. Should she accept, the spoon became a token of engagement.

The tradition has largely disappeared. But in Wales, these intricately carved wooden utensils, called lovespoons, remain a sentimental gift between lovers. Each spoon tells a story, and every knot, carving, and symbol in the wood represents something: love, security, a new home, children, and so on. Some spoons are heirlooms that have been handed down through generations, where each successor adds unique carvings to the handle. Others create new spoons, writing a fresh story and highlighting their knife skills (or commissioning well-known lovespoon makers to tell the story for them).

Today, couples gift decorative lovespoons to each other on Valentine’s Day, doing away with gendered traditions of the past and the association with betrothal. Still, the object itself symbolizes the mixing of two lives into one, so if an engagement ring isn’t your sweetheart’s style, consider an ancient lovespoon.

Need to Know

Both The Lovespoon Workshop and Castle Welsh Crafts have online shops for ordering lovespoons.

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