You may think that one of the most popular images of Thanksgiving, the cornucopia, came to us by way of the Pilgrims. But we can actually thank Greek mythology for this symbol that now is present on so many Thanksgiving tables. The cornucopia, translated from Latin as ‘horn of plenty,’ is so prevalent in ancient Greek culture, that there are several legends surrounding its origin. All stories revolve around the fact that the cornucopia was inspired by a goat’s horn, but in what context is up for debate. As a child, Zeus was hidden from his father, who legend says wanted to devour him. One version of the myth is that he was fed goat’s milk; others say that an actual goat was his caregiver. Each version has its own ending as well; one stating that the goat offered its horn in deference to Zeus; and the more popular version saying that the child Zeus, not knowing his own strength, tore it off while playing, and then offered it back overflowing with gifts, in order to apologize.
Regardless of the genesis of the story, the cornucopia has come down through Greek and Roman culture, European culture and, through the Pilgrims, to America. It has always represented both abundance and prosperity, making it a classic symbol at harvest festivals, and presumably at the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The horn is generally filled with the bounty of a successful harvest – vegetables and grains. To that would be added fruits, nuts, berries and flowers that had been gathered from the earth’s provision.
The horn of plenty has survived thousands of years, coming down through the ages with the same message – we should give thanks for the blessings in our lives. No wonder it remains a Thanksgiving tradition. On modern holiday tables, the cornucopia is a traditional centerpiece, most often filled with fall flowers; as well as autumn accents such as leaves, cattails, berries and small gourds. Call Gainan’s Flowers today – Thanksgiving is coming up quickly and we want to help you to create a striking holiday centerpiece, floral arrangement or bouquet that will be the perfect finishing touch to your special meal. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, in Billings and beyond. We are grateful for your loyal friendship this year.