My mother always has a marvelous Thanksgiving table. It is piled high with the classic food of the holiday causing the delicious aroma of turkey and pie to fill the house. Her table is not only full of delicious food, but is always decorated beautifully. Since I was a child, I have admired the cornucopia my mother used to decorate the table. I have a cornucopia of my own now, and I love using it as a part of my Thanksgiving décor.
I grew up knowing a cornucopia as a “horn of plenty.” The name cornucopia comes from two Latin words: cornu, meaning “horn,” and copia, meaning “plenty.” This horn is often associated with Thanksgiving, although it is unclear how that came to be. It is quite possible that a cornucopia was actually present at the first Thanksgiving, but there is no definite record to prove it.
The origin of the cornucopia is commonly associated with several mythological legends. A common one is this legend from Greek mythology: As an infant, the god Zeus was hiding in a cave from his father. While hiding in the cave, he was cared for by a goat named Amalthea. One day as she was nursing the baby Zeus, he broke off one of her horns, which began to pour out a constant supply of nourishment.
Through mythology, the cornucopia became a symbol of abundance. It is featured on many flags, including the state flags of Idaho and North Carolina, as well as coats of arms for Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and Columbia. In artwork, it was often full with an abundance of food, leading it to become a symbol of harvest time. Over the centuries, the image of a cornucopia evolved from an animal horn to a horn-shaped basket. Now, we most commonly know a cornucopia as a hollow and horn-shaped basket, usually wicker, filled with fall produce. Each time I see a cornucopia, I am immediately transported back to the joys of my childhood Thanksgivings.
How do you decorate your Thanksgiving table?