Thursday, February 9, 2017

Appalachian Traditions: The Love Spoon

When I started researching "Appalachian Love" traditions and such for this blog, I came across an article in Smoky Mountain Living that mentioned a courting tradition centered around something called a Love Spoon (sometimes spelled Lovespoon). I thought, "What in the world is a love spoon?!" Some of y'all may be asking the same question. Lucky for you, I couldn't get it off of my mind and can now answer that question.


You can find this and many more beautiful Love Spoons here
(Adam King design.)

When a young man was ready to ask for a girl's hand in marriage, he would carve a spoon that was ornately decorated with horseshoes (luck), a cross (faith), bells (marriage), hearts (love), a wheel (ability to support), a lock (security), and other images that may relate to their family's lineage. This was a token to show the girl, and her father, that he was a skilled woodworker and was capable of providing for her and their future family. 

"The lovespoon is a traditional craft that dates back to the 17th century. Over generations, decorative carvings were added to the spoon and it lost its original practical use and became a treasured decorative item to be hung on a wall. 
The earliest known dated lovespoon from Wales, displayed in the St. Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff, is from 1667, although the tradition is believed to date back long before that. The earliest dated lovespoon worldwide originates from Germany and is dated 1664." - Wikipedia

From what I've read, this custom was carried over from Welsh traditions. I'm a little sad that it isn't a custom that is frequently practiced in Appalachia today.. The men in my family (husband, Dad, and father-in-law) are all skilled woodworkers so I'm sure they could make some beautiful love spoons. While I didn't get a pretty spoon made for me when my husband and I were dating, he did make me a beautiful cedar hope chest and it is still one of my most treasured items.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a gift like that over flowers that will wither away any ol' day. 

Had you ever heard of a love spoon before today? Maybe some of you actually own one? Please share pictures if you do...I'd love to see them!