The wooden spoon is possibly one of the first items you made in woodwork class at school. It’s an everyday utensil that is easily made and can be found in nearly every home in Bulgaria.
‘Old wives Tales’ about the wooden spoon date back centuries to the days of pagan beliefs and worship.
Indeed, many old strange custom and traditions share similarities to other neighbouring countries.
I’m sure we all enjoy learning about them because they all make the world we share a more interesting place to live.
Wooden Spoon for Life
The simple household wooden spoon still has a special place in Bulgarian tradition and culture.
It was so easy for someone with a sharp knife, a bit of patience and a piece of wood to whittle a spoon.
Undoubtedly this task would be performed by the father of the household. It would be usually carved from Oak, Beech or Maple. These being the best wood for cooking utensils.
Indeed every person in the house would receive a wooden spoon given to them by their father. They would cherish that spoon and it would be kept all their lives.
A strange custom says that, if you were invited to a neighbour’s house for a meal, then you must take with you your special wooden spoon.
Spoon of Warning
The wooden spoon was also an instrument of a sign or warning. If an extra spoon was placed on the dining table, another guest should be expected and if one ate with two spoons, he or she will marry twice.
A spoon that has fallen from the table however, implies that a woman visitor would come. If a knife should fall to the floor, then a man should be expected.
If two men shared the same wooden spoon to eat, then they would be expected to quarrel.
Wooden Spoon for Magic Spells
The humble wooden spoon was often used for breaking spells cast by mischievous elves or nymphs.
An odd number of spoons taken from an odd number of different homes would be brought to the offending place. Incantations were made by the local sorceress to be rid of the curse.
The spoons would also be used for casting good spells. For ensuring a good crop from the field or enough yields of milk from the cow or goat.
Wooden spoons were even used for matchmaking. They were also used for ensuring the groom was able to perform his duties on the night of his wedding! The mind boggles at the thought of how!
White magic used to break the spell of evil eye needed special wood, such as ash, elm, or hornbeam.
Many types of woods and plants would not be permitted into homes as they could bring bad luck.
Spoons made from Boxwood, (which has many healing properties)were allowed and so the sorceress was able to enter the home at funerals to ward off any evils present.
The wooden spoon also had protective powers.
Another strange custom and baby traditions is for new young mums.
For the first few weeks after a young mother had given birth, she would only be allowed to go out if carrying her wooden spoon. It must be tied with a red piece of thread, carry a lighted candle or wearing a garlic wreath to help ward off the demons.
Wooden Spoon of Proposal
In every village there would always be a common meeting area where young men and women would gather. Here, the man would show his intentions for the girl by giving his potential bride a wooden spoon and hoping that she would accept his offer.
According to another strange and unusual custom, а spoon thrown over the head of а man releases him from fear and anxiety.
I’m sure after reading this, the next time you stir your porridge you will think about all the different uses a wooden spoon has.
Custom of The Three Legged Chair
In many homes you visit in Bulgaria, particularly the old ethnographic museums. You will perhaps find in a corner of the room, a three legged chair.
The purpose of this, was to trick the evil eye. (A spell put on you by evil thinkers) into thinking that you were poor and so, they would go away and not bother with such a poor lowly soul.
The three legged chair was put to other uses too.
When a young couple were just married, the bride would turn the chair upside down. she would then place a candle on each of the three legs.
A saint would then be attributed to each of the candles. The candle that burnt out first would become the protector of the home and family.
Find out more about the Traditions of Bulgaria