Os Lenços dos Namorados – declare love with embroidery

namorado voor

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and in Lisbon, dia dos Namorados is celebrated as well. The way Lisboetas celebrate Valentine’s Day isn’t very different from what we know: surprising your loved one with a gift or a card. In Portugal, a traditional way to surprise someone is Os Lenços dos Namorados, or the Valentine’s handkerchief.

The Valentine’s handkerchief is known throughout the country, but its origin lies in the northern province of Minho, Portugal.

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Handkerchief of love

Os Lenços dos Namorados is a poetic way for girls to let boys know they like them. This tradition dates back to the seventeenth century when noble girls sought a man in this way.

Namorado jurken meisjes

Here’s how it works: a girl embroiders texts or verses on a linen or cotton handkerchief, often in different colors. These verses, like “coração por coração, amor mem troques, meu olha que meu coração sempre foi lial o teu” (Heart by heart, darling, don’t exchange my love, my heart has always been loyal to yours), are often written in old Portuguese spelling.

The girl gives the handkerchief to the boy she is in love with. If the boy wears the handkerchief on Sunday as a scarf around his neck, with the knot in front, it means that the love is mutual, and they are dating. If he doesn’t wear the handkerchief, it shows disinterest, and he returns the handkerchief to the girl.

Os Lenços dos Namorados: expanded range

Over the years, Os Lenços dos Namorados has become more commercial. In addition to embroidered handkerchiefs, there are now many other products available with the motif of Os Lenços dos Namorados, such as tablecloths, coffee cups, cushions, and magnets. Since it’s not limited to Valentine’s Day but about declaring love in general, these products are available throughout the year. But let’s be honest, something so romantic fits perfectly with Valentine’s Day rather than on a regular Tuesday afternoon.

Where to find embroidery

Textiles with embroidery of Os Lenços dos Namorados can be found at reputable textile shops, such as Vidal Fabricas, where we bought fabrics to make dresses for our daughters. Additionally, products with the motif of Os Lenços dos Namorados can often be found in souvenir shops, such as tablecloths, towels, handkerchiefs, cups, and magnets. You can also check out A Vida Portuguesa – classic Portuguese products for products with a traditional motif.

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