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Ireland and Beyond - Symbols of Love and Friendship Around the Globe By Leigh Maher

You can find beautifully written poems, stories and legends from around the world, painting vivid imagery in your mind of love long left to the pages of time. Sometimes, however, it is more poignant to see a compact symbol of love and friendship, artfully drawn and perhaps crafted into beautiful jewelry.

The Quaich: The word "quaich" comes from the Gaelic word "cuach," meaning cup. At first, it may not seem like cups and love have much to do with one another, but the Quaich was used as a token of friendship between Clan chiefs and visiting wealthy merchants. Today the cup, usually made from wood or metals, has become well known as a symbol of friendship and people will use them in welcoming toasts and for gifts to those they hold dear to their heart. The quaich also has a strong history in terms of love, as some of the older quaichs had a compartment in the bottom meant to contain a lock of your beloved's hair, so they were always with you when you drank from the cup.

Lychee: According to an account by China's Nanjing Museum, the lychee (or litchi) is considered the ultimate Chinese gift of love. A sweet fruit, the lychee was the favorite of a very special wife of his who hailed from the south of China. She was one of the emperor's favorite wives during the Tang Dynasty, but there was a little blip on the radar of the emperor's seduction plan. Since the lychee only grows in the warm climate of southern China, he was not able to locate any of the fruits in the north to woo his beloved with. The emperor then enlisted the aid of the best riders in the land combined with only the fastest horses, and had them all ride to the south to bring back the lychee for his wife's enjoyment.

Doves: Doves first became associated with love back in Greek history and mythology. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, took on doves as her emblem. Because of this fact, and the convenience that "dove" rhymes with "love," doves have come to be known as the messengers of love and affection. This even helps explain why the phrase "lovey-dovey" came to be.

The Welsh Lovespoon: It seems that silverware and kitchen supplies are the historically symbolic of love. The Welsh lovespoon is an intricately carved wooden spoon with a highly decorated handle. The custom goes that a young man in Wales during the 17th century would carve a spoon and give it to his beloved


as a token of his affection. The earliest known and recorded lovespoon dates back to 1667 and now resides in the Museum of Welsh Life in St. Fagans. Some scholars think that the lovespoon may have been presented to a woman as a form of an engagement token, or at least the indication of a serious commitment.

Osram Ne Nsoroma: This beautiful and simple African symbol literally means "the moon and star." A simple quarter moon is drawn next to a star with eight points, and this symbol represents love, harmony, faithfulness and the female essence of life. The symbol is meant to depict the female north star awaiting the return of her love and partner, the moon.

The Lovespoon Gallery here: www.welshlovespoon.com


Ireland and Beyond