Julia's Simply Southern: The Pineapple - A Symbol of Hospitality >

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Pineapple - A Symbol of Hospitality

Ever wonder how the pineapple became such a symbol of hospitality? It is seen everywhere throughout the south. This includes my own home where this  plaque hangs next to the entrance door to greet my guests.

The pineapple is recognized as a traditional expression of “welcome” throughout the South and in areas along the Eastern Seaboard. Appearing on all sorts of d├ęcor – from door knockers to quilts – the fruit symbolizes those intangible assets we appreciate in a home: warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality.
American colonists began importing the pineapple from the Caribbean in the 17th century. Due to its seemingly exotic qualities and rareness, the pineapple soon became a symbol of hospitality in early America.  Because trade routes between America and Caribbean islands were often slow and perilous, it was considered a significant achievement for a host to procure a ripe pineapple for guests. Similarly, some accounts tell of New England sea captains who, upon returning from trade routes in the Caribbean or Pacific, would place a pineapple outside their homes as a symbol of a safe return.
Due to its association with warmth and friendliness, pineapples in America were often used as the “crowning” piece in large displays of food. In larger, well-to-do homes, the dining doors were kept closed to heighten visitors suspense about the table being readied on the other side. At the appointed moment, and with the maximum amount of pomp and drama, the doors were flung open to reveal the evening's main event. Visitors confronted with pineapple-topped food displays felt particularly honored by a hostess who obviously spared no expense to ensure her guests dining pleasure. Similarly, the pineapple symbol was used frequently in the 18th and 19th centuries to decorate bed posts, tablecloths, napkins—anything associated with welcoming guests.  Today, the pineapple remains a fitting symbol for the hospitality industry, and pineapple-themed products still abound.  From lamps to candle holders to salt and pepper shakers and beyond, the pineapple motif says "Welcome!" and expresses good cheer, warmth and family affection.
Here in South Carolina we even have the beautiful Pineapple Fountain in Charleston's Waterfront Park.


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