It’s time to brush up on your Thanksgiving trivia! On November 25, impress your guests with your knowledge of everyone’s favorite centerpiece: the cornucopia. You’ve likely seen a cornucopia before—you know, one of these hollow . Horn-shaped baskets that’s ubiquitous in late November.
In fact, as you read this, you might even be preparing to fill one with gourds and flowers for your Thanksgiving centerpiece, setting a delightful, eye-catching scene for your family and friends. After all, cornucopias and Thanksgiving go together like pie and pumpkin spice, roasted turkey and homemade gravy, and cranberry sauce and leftover sandwiches. It’s just expected.
What’s the history of the Thanksgiving cornucopia?
The word “cornucopia” is derived from two Latin words: Cornu, meaning “horn,” and Copia, meaning “plenty.” . A frequent presence in Greek and Roman folklore the overflowing cornucopia . Was often depicted as a symbolic accessory carried by gods and goddesses like Hercules, Fortuna, and Demeter.
It was first described as an actual animal “horn” taken from Amalthea, the goat nurse of Zeus. According to the ancient Greeks, baby Zeus was being cared for and fed by Amalthea when he broke off one of her horns, accordingly which began to emit a constant supply of food for him. That’s how this “horn of plenty” first came to symbolize prosperity, wealth, and abundance.
The pagan symbol was later adopted by Christians and used often in European harvest festivals to celebrate lush, bountiful crops. Equally it was also used on currencies, coats of arms, and in church decorations.
Why is the cornucopia a symbol of Thanksgiving? And was there a cornucopia at the first Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving has always been an ode to harvest time . And it’s always taken place in the fall—so it’s natural that the holiday would feature the cornucopia . Which historically embodies all of those things.However, beyond that hypothesis, it is not known when or why the chestnut display is associated with the American holiday. Historians in particular have long speculated that there may have been a return to those European harvest festivals, but that must have happened sometime after the first Thanksgiving. There’s no formal record of a cornucopia appearing there.
How do you fill a cornucopia—and where should you display it?
You might want to start by putting something in it. I’s typically filled to the point of overflowing with a variety of fruits, veggies, grains, and pumpkins . All of which share a color scheme or are specific to the autumn season. As for where to put it, the possibilities are endless: Place the filled cornucopia in the center of your Thanksgiving table . For a lush-looking centerpiece, add it to a kitchen counter or island for a splash of festive charm all season long . Or even display it on a bureau or other tabletop surface anywhere in your home.