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Pineapple - Symbol of Hospitality and Prosperity

As a child, my grandmother from Kentucky told me the pineapple decor on her wall was considered a symbol of hospitality in the South. I thought this was a lovely tradition and carried it on as an adult. The origin of this symbolism has a fascinating history which of course begins with the sweet, delicious fruit which was found in South America, then brought to Europe and finally to North America.

Pineapples came to be on the Caribbean islands through centuries of Indian commerce. They originated in Brazil and Paraguay. It was known as anana or the "excellent fruit." Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter the pineapple and after that it took Europe by storm as a prized import of royalty. If you consider that Columbus first visited the islands in 1493 and that Europe was not known for exotic fruit, you'll understand why the sweet fruit was so sought after.

The ship voyage to bring the fruit to Europe was a long and sometimes arduous one. Much of the cargo didn't make it due to spoilage. Those pineapples that did survive the trip made it into the wealthiest households, so it became a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

This symbolism was carried to colonial America where these households in turn wanted to show their wealth at dinner parties through extravagant tabletop food displays. Hence, it also became a symbol of hospitality to welcome friends into the home.

Hospitality and the pineapple were so intertwined that it became a popular decorative motif in the home on walls, fabric, carpets and wood and metal work. While it may not be as prevalent as it once was, the pineapple symbol still adorns floor mats and doorways in homes across the country to welcome friends and family into the home.

Sources consulted:

Bottorff, Tim. The Pineapple, "Princess of Fruits" and Symbol of Hospitality, University of Central Florida Libraries, accessed 2014. http://library.ucf.edu/rosen/pineapple.php

Levins, Hoag. Pineapple History, Levins.com, 1995-2009. http://www.levins.com/pineapple.html

Here, I recommend some pineapple welcoming decor:
Pineapple Welcome Friends Wall Plaque
Imports Décor Rubber and Coir Molded Doormat, Pineapple, 18 by 30-Inch

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