The cornucopia is typically a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket filled with various seasonal fruits and vegetables. Though most Americans associate the cornucopia with the Thanksgiving holiday, it was around long before Columbus sailed to America.

In fact, the cornucopia dates all the way back to 5 B.C. It even shows up in Greek mythology.

The word “cornucopia” is derived from the Latin “cornu” (meaning “horn”) and “copia” (meaning “plenty”). That literally translates to “horn of plenty”!

In one legend, the cornucopia was a source of endless food and drink, refilling itself with whatever its owner requested. Imagine that! You could order up a chocolate cake for breakfast or a pound of pudding at snack time!

Today the cornucopia serves as a symbol of abundance. In the United States, it most commonly appears as a centerpiece at Thanksgiving. Some historians suspect the cornucopia’s place at the Thanksgiving table was borrowed from the European harvest festivals, where farmers celebrated by filling a goat’s horn with grain and fruit.

Think the cornucopia only has a place at the table? Think again! The cornucopia appears on the state flag of Idaho and the coats of arms for Panama, Columbia, Peru and Venezuela as a symbol of prosperity.

 

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a cornucopia?
  • Where did the cornucopia come from?
  • How do you make a cornucopia?

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Try It Out

Looking for a family-friendly activity to ring in the harvest celebration? Create your own cornucopia!

Don’t limit yourself to the traditional ingredients of a cornucopia — fill yours with objects that best represent your family’s interests. When it’s complete, place your homemade horn of plenty at center stage on the table as a reminder of all you have to be thankful for this season.

 

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Tomorrow’s wonder won’t help you turn over a new leaf, but it will take a closer look at a few old ones.  Meet us in the Forest of Wonder tomorrow as we explore the most colorful time of the year.

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