What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Turkeys? A huge meal? Football games? Time with family and friends?
All of those things spring to mind during the Thanksgiving season. You might even find many of them on Thanksgiving decorations. There's one thing you'll also find on many Thanksgiving decorations: a basket full of seasonal fruits and vegetables. What are we talking about? The cornucopia, of course!
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.