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What Is Spooning? The History of a Welsh Tradition

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Wondering what "spooning" is? Look no further

Wondering what "spooning" is? Look no further

What Is Spooning?

If you had never heard the term, you might wonder what "spooning" is. It may sound like something that goes on the dining room table, but (the others eating there hope) it is not often found on a table. I'm not saying that I've never heard of someone spooning on their dining room table, I'm just stating it's not usually an everyday occurrence.

Spooning is a type of hugging. Both people involved face the same direction so that they look like spoons in a drawer. Wikipedia states that the front person is called the "Big Spoon" and the back person is called the "Little Spoon." Now, I have never heard that before, but I certainly like when my partner holds me this way, and I can feel his "little spoon" against my back. Funny how he usually turns into the "big spoon" as he holds me.



Spooning Is a Welsh Tradition

Wales is famous for many things, the ones that stand out in my mind are Tom Jones, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. I have heard the term "Prince of Wales." I know (from my school days) that Wales has a ton of coal, sheep, and mountains...but where does spooning come in? How can a hug be associated with a country?

Here's a fact I had not previously known, Wales is also famous for its "love spoons." Sounds a little kinky, don't you think? Sorry to disappoint you, but it's not kinky, it's an old courtship tradition in Wales. And no, they don't spank each other with spoons. This tradition is even older.

Tom Jones "She's a Lady"

Rood Screen

Rood Screen

Wood Carving and Wales

The Welsh have been famous for their wood carvings since medieval times. Many cathedrals hold testament to the skill of the Welsh in the form of carved "rood screens." These intricately carved screens were both a symbolic and physical barrier that separated the domain of the priests (the sanctuary) from that of the masses (the nave). The holes allowed the ordinary people to see into the priests' world and granted them limited access to the spiritual realm.

Wood carving was an exalted talent in Wales. The best carvers were excellent providers for their families. I am not sure exactly who started the tradition of carving love spoons but once started it caught on like a wildfire. Soon young men throughout Wales were carving spoons to win the love of that special someone.

Welsh Love Spoons

I know what you are thinking, how does a spoon win the love of a maiden? Well, the Welsh love spoons were not just any old spoon pumped out by a factory. They were hand-carved pieces of art. Young men would spend months carving them, the more intricate, the better. Tradition tells that if the woman of their desires accepted the spoon, the two were then acknowledged as a couple by society.

Spoons existed before forks. They were useful for eating, measuring, cooking, and serving. They were a multi-functional utensil and a much sought-after commodity. Love spoons took several hours to carve. The young man would spend many evenings carving the perfect one. Several evenings that would be well worth his time if they were accepted by his love. They were the equivalent of an engagement ring.

What Do the Symbols Mean?

Welsh love spoons were carved with care, and the symbols carved into them were very personal. The more intricate the carving, the more the man cared for the woman. Each heart, chain, and flower had meaning, meaning that when strung together was very intimate and personal.

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From telling her how many children he wanted to tell her that his heart was "anchored" in her, the love spoon gave the man a lasting testimony of his love. Originally they were probably used in everyday life, but over time they became ornamental. A woman would proudly display this avowal of her man's love for all her neighbors to see.

Some of the symbols used most often included:

Double Heart: They love each other, a shared love

Celtic Knot: Everlasting love

Vine Twist: Our love will grow

Horseshoe: Good luck and good fortune

Single Heart: May I court you?

Link Chain: Married within (however many links) years

Ball in Cage: Your love is safe with me

Heart Shaped Spoon: We will have a life full of love

Birds: Love birds or Let's go away together.

What Does This Have to Do With Spooning?

The Welsh called this display of affection spooning. Spooning originally meant the giving of an intricately carved spoon to the woman you loved and wanted to marry. Over time, spooning came to mean a type of hug where you lay facing the same way. Although the meanings are different, the word originated in Wales.

I hope this has been helpful, researching this has been delightfully enlightening. I would never have guessed the origins of the word! Remember, Wales is a lovely country and it has given us more than we know. Spoon often, spoon well, and happy forking!

How to Spoon

© 2010 Katie Butler


Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on January 11, 2011:

Interesting information. I will have to check out the Welsh spoon museum.

Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on March 05, 2010:

Tony, Spooning and forking are both wonderful activities and you must be a wonderful spooner, having both the love and the bloodline for it! ;) Thanks!

Tony McGregor from South Africa on March 05, 2010:

So it's my Welsh blood that's to blame for my love of forking and spooning - I would never have known that if you had not written this great Hub, thank you. More strength to your spoon, good friend!

Love and peace


Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on February 28, 2010:

wavegirl, I've never been stumbled before, but yes, I love it! Thank you, it means a lot to me that you like the hub. And I am with you...spooning is an excellent sleeping position, is there any better?

Shari from New York, NY on February 28, 2010:

obsexed - don't you just love when hypnodude stumbles upon you ;) and yes I agree with him on all counts . .this Hub is excellent! And what better way to sleep - spooning is the best;)

Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on February 28, 2010:

hypnodude, Thanks! I really appreciate the compliment, and I hope I prove you right someday. :)

Andrew from Italy on February 27, 2010:

Very well done hub. If this is the beginning you will be soon a top hubber. Rated up and stumbled. :)

Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on February 25, 2010:

My Sweet Anjolie, Spooning is very relaxing, here or there!

My Sweet Anjolie on February 22, 2010:

I do like spooning with or without the table setting and in any land.

Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on February 21, 2010:

Thanks Michael! It was very interesting to research also.

Michael Jay on February 21, 2010:

Nice hub, obsexed! It's really interesting.

Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on February 21, 2010:

IntimatEvolution, I'm glad you loved it. Thanks for being so sweet and tweeting about it! That makes my day!

Al, I love learning about different customs. And I agree, a sincere hug is warming to the heart and body. Thanks!

Mystique1957 from Caracas-Venezuela on February 21, 2010:

How spooningly sweet! I am amazed at customs from different parts of the world. This is one I would certainly love to practice with regularity(Not the carving! That requires serious skills-The Hugging)There isn´t something warmer than a sincere hug, and if it is Spooning...well...Gotta get some tea, bye now!

Wonderful hub!

Thumbs up!

warmest regards and blessings,


Julie Grimes from Columbia, MO USA on February 21, 2010:

I love it! Sent a tweet out about it. Love it. You so had me at the title. How funny.

Katie Butler (author) from Sensual, USA on February 21, 2010:

I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s, I had a good time finding this information. I also found out the Welsh are an amazing people. Thanks!

salt, Thank you for reading!

salt from australia on February 21, 2010:

Wonderful thankyou..

I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s on February 21, 2010:

Such a lovely HUB! :) Delightful history shared. I would have never guessed the history of spooning. The Welsh are passionate people with devoted hearts. Thank you so much for this wonderful history. I can only it took you a while to gather all th info. :D Two Thumbs UP!

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