Lovespoons are traditional gifts dating back to the seventeenth century. Over the years, decorative carvings were added to the spoon and it lost its practical use and became a treasured decorative item to be hung on a wall.
The earliest known dated lovespoon from Wales is from 1667 and is displayed in the St Fagans National Folk in Cardiff, although the tradition is believed to date back long before that.
The lovespoon was given to a young woman by her suitor and her acceptance of the spoon marked their betrothal.
Sailors would often carve lovespoons during their long journeys, which is why anchors would often be incorporated into the carvings.
Certain symbols came to have specific meanings: a horseshoe for luck, a cross for faith, bells for marriage, hearts for love, a wheel supporting a loved one and a lock for security, among others. Caged balls indicated the number of children hoped for. Other difficult carvings, such as chains, were as much a demonstration of the carver's skill as a symbolic meaning.
Today lovespoons are given as wedding and anniversary gifts, as well as birthday, baby gifts, Christmas or Valentine's Day gifts.