Welcome Guests with Pineapple Decor
The pineapple has been a symbol of welcome and hospitality since the 1600s, a time when pineapples were extremely rare and considered extravagances. According to history, Christopher Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to come across pineapples, encountering them during his second voyage to the West Indies. Its sweetness and bizarre appearance gave it instant popularity.
Evidence of its popularity are reflected in the decorative pineapple ceramics, carvings and stencils that date back to Colonial times. Some artistic representations included "Welcome Friends" or other sayings. These items were popular on the doors and at entryways of homes about 350 years ago.
Today pineapple motifs and decor
are still prevalent on doormats
, housewarming gifts, area rugs, table lamps and chandeliers.
History of the Pineapple in Europe
In 1493, Columbus first brought the pineapple back to Europe. At that time, sweet foods, including fresh fruit, were unavailable to most Europeans. The pineapple's exotic nature and sweetness soon made it a highly sought-after item. For two centuries, as horticulturists struggled to perfect a hothouse method for cultivating pineapples in Europe, the pineapple became an extremely coveted commodity.
Pineapples weren't just hard to grow in Europe; they were also difficult to preserve. Without refrigeration, and at a time of relatively slow ocean travel, they often did not survive the trip. Because of these two difficulties, pineapples were very rare. It remained an expensive delicacy until after the advent of the steamship and mass production of refrigerators after World War II.
Pineapple Decor in the Colonial Period
During Colonial days in the United States, colorful centerpieces during festive meals included fruits of all kinds. The pineapple became the most desirable of all due to its extravagance. For gatherings in more prestigious circles, closed dining room doors heightened visitors' anticipation of the meal to come. At dinnertime, the doors were ceremoniously opened to reveal the evening's main event. Visitors felt particularly honored by a hostess who included a pineapple, sparing no expense to ensure her guests' dining pleasure. This symbolized the utmost in welcome and hospitality to the visitor, and the hostess would serve the fruit as a special dessert after the meal. Visiting was the primary means of entertainment and cultural exchange, so hospitality was a central element in Colonial life. Procuring a pineapple for a gathering was such a symbol of status that, reportedly, the fruits could be rented out in Colonial America.
This unique fruit came to symbolize the high spirits of social events themselves. The image of the pineapple now expresses a sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection.