Monday 25 January 2021

 The Welsh Custom of Giving Lovespoons

Siop Y Pentan
Cyfres Lucila Lavender
The 25th of January is the feast day of Saint Dwynwen who is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, making her the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. Saint Dwynwen lived in the 5th century and was a Welsh princess, the daughter of  King Brychan Brycheiniog. She was unlucky in love, and became a nun. She prayed that happiness would be granted to all lovers. She set up a convent on Llanddwyn island off Anglesey. Her church and 'holy well' is a pilgrimage shrine, especially for lovers, from the Middle Ages until today. The popularity of celebrating St Dwynwen's Day has increased considerably in recent years.

A Welsh love spoon may be considered an ideal St Dwynwen's Day gift.  Lovespoons were traditionally given as a token of love and affection and each spoon was unique. Although individual, over time a series of symbols was used to convey romantic thoughts and feelings. Here are some designs and their meanings:

Hearts - the universal symbol of love. Twin hearts may indicate a mutual love between the sender and recipient.

Double Bowls - this indicates the union of souls when joined together.

Balls in a Cage - these are commonly thought to represent the number of children desired by the carver.

Chain Links - generally considered to indicate loyaly and faithfulness, chain links may also symbolise a couple bound together in their love.

Diamonds - these are believed to represent a wish for prosperity and good fortune as well as a promise to provide well for a loved one.

Keys and Keyholes - as well as representing domestic contentment, these are thought to represent security and a key to one's heart.

Wheels - these are said to represent the carver's vow to work hard and guide a loved one through life.

The young man would spend hours carving the lovespoon with his own hands, in the hope that the young girl would accept it. If she did, they would start a relationship, which is the origin of the word 'spooning'.

Today they are often given as a gift of affection or a memento of a visit to Wales.Lovespoons are given to commemorate special events such as weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, births, christenings, house-warming and St Valentine's Day. Over the centuries, many more symbols and motifs have been added and now lovespoons have become more elaborate and collectable.

Here is one made for me when I left my first teaching post to get married and move away from the area. Obviously, those were the days before disposable nappies and by carving the heart's safety pin, the carver thought babies would be on the horizon for me!

Lovespoons do not always come in wood. Clogau Gold has a range of beautiful lovespoon jewellery. For an anniversary, and three babies later, my husband presented me with this beautiful pendant in yellow and rose gold. I was thrilled.


A very special lovespoon features in my short story Christmas Surprises on Péfka in the anthology Cosy Christmas Treats, published by Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction

'Yiannis unwrapped the gift and held up a beautifully carved lovespoon, with two hearts engraved with the initials A and Y.

    "In Wales these were given as love tokens." Sadie pointed out each part on the design. "The hearts are obviously for love, the bell here is for marriage, the knot symbolises every lasting love, and see the little balls inside the frame? They signify how many children you'll have."

    "Three?" Yiannis and Alexandra laughed.

    Yiannis handed the lovespoon to Alexandra... "With three woodturners in the room, you could not have chosen a better gift. We all see the craftsmanship and care that has gone into this. Thank you."


Thank you for reading. Do you own or have bought a lovespoon? Was it for a special occasion? What symbols are part of its design?

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Monday 11 January 2021

 Looking Forward With 2021 Goals

The blog is seven years old this January and every year at this time, I look ahead to the coming year and set myself some writing goals. I've enjoyed looking back to those early sets of targets when I was starting out on this writing journey. Back in 2014, they revolved around writing short stories and submitting them to competitions or online platforms. They then progressed to completing the first draft and editing a novel through to submitting it to publishers. 2020 was the year I became a published author for the first time so the main goal of the last seven years was achieved but what a year it was! 

Because we are still in the middle of the pandemic and as I write this, things are set to get even worse before the vaccine is rolled out, what the new year will bring to me as a writer is uncertain. However, I do have some targets to share with you. In 2021, I hope to:

  • get my third novel in the best condition I can before submitting it to my editor at Ruby Fiction. It's coming out in July and I'm looking forward to introducing Annie, Odile and Clara to my lovely readers. Many have been asking when the next novel is being published and I hope I can fulfil their expectations!
  • work on some ideas for future novels that have been bubbling away in my head. Whereas the first three books have explored mother and daughter relationships, I'd like to look at links between siblings next. As with all my novels, I hope that they will be partly set in a contrasting country so that when we can travel freely again, I can 'walk the walk' of my new characters, notebook in hand. I can't wait!
  • attend the RNA Conference in person. I did miss it so much this year like everyone else, I'm sure.
The other goals are on-going ones:

  • to read more
  • to continue with the fortnightly blog. It was a good decision to move from weekly to writing a post every other week. In 2020, there were 26 blog posts, whereas I hadn't ever reached my target of a post a week before.
  • to continue to enjoy my writing and learn more about the craft. I shall be continuing with Imagine Writing Workshops with Jenny Kane. These sessions via Zoom have not only been enjoyable but invaluable for keeping my writing mojo going during a difficult year. Thanks, Jenny!
Wish me luck!

Thank you for reading and your loyal support. I hope that you achieve your writing goals in 2021. Are they different from other years' in view of COVID? How do you prioritise? I'd love it if you shared your thoughts and ideas. Thanks.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.