Throughout my archaeology degree I had this running joke with my boyfriend that if I could discover anything on the yearly excavations it would be a spoon. I’m not quite sure why I chose a spoon as the object of my desire, perhaps I thought they were commonplace or that it would be rather funny to find one, nonetheless it was a spoon I sought. Yet a year into my degree I hadn’t found a spoon. Fortunately,
as with most running jokes, the physical object became a reality, as during my second year of university my boyfriend gave me a gift of a small, decorative, silver spoon. Five years on I still have the spoon and have just recently discovered what the Chinese symbol means; good fortune. To anyone else this spoon is just an object made for the tourist market, but to me the spoon represents the affection and thoughtfulness of my boyfriend, a small display of love.
It seems this attraction to spoons has followed me in life, as I am now the proud owner of two more decorative spoons. I received my second spoon one Christmas, it came in a makeshift box, wrapped in a Christmas napkin and accompanied by a note. When I opened the box and unwrapped the spoon I was overwhelmed with emotion and shed a few happy tears. It was a wooden spoon made from American Red Oak, carved by my Grandad. Never before had I received such a perfect, personal, thoughtful present. The spoon handle was based on an Art Deco lady from a card I sent my Grandad and Nana. To say this spoon means a lot to me is an understatement; it is one of my most cherished items and it will stay with me for life. From my experience, I feel it is rare these days to received a present that someone has lovingly designed and crafted themselves. The spoon is one of a kind, entirely individual and a personal representation of family and love, which leads me on to my final spoon.
For as long as I can remember there has been two metal spoons hanging on my family’s
dining room wall, they were bought in a charity shop in Wales by my dad. The spoons are identical with hearts on the handles and they are Welsh love-spoons. What more, I have always wanted a love-spoon of my own. In Wales it was traditional for a suitor to give a lady a carved wooden spoon as a ritual of betrothal or rejection. These wooden spoons would have had elaborate, personalised, designed handles displaying symbolic images such as a knot, which represented ‘everlasting, together forever’, or a ship that symbolised a ‘smooth passage through life’. The custom died out by the nineteenth century, but love-spoons continued to be made. Today, there has been a resurgence of the Welsh love-spoon and now people can buy pre-carved spoons to give as a commemorative gift to a loved one. This in effect saves the customer both time and effort, but the display of affection remains.
This fascination with love-spoons has never left me. Some of my heritage is Celtic, from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and I often feel a strong connection with national symbols from these countries. I believe having a physical representation of traditional images makes me feel as if I have inherited some of their culture, even if I was not born there. This year for my birthday my mother gave me the gift of a love-spoon, hand-carved in Wales and I was elated. Once again I was given a spoon as a gesture of love. The spoon is decorated with a harp – a traditional Welsh symbol and surrounded by flowers, which represent affection. Some may perceive these spoons as an unauthentic tourist gimmick with a lost sense of originality, yet once again I regard this spoon as special. Moreover, the spoon holds even more meaning to me as I am a historian and harps were used by ancient Welsh bards to sing stories of their historical past.
So there we have it, three different spoons given to me by three different people, but with the same message; love.