Monday Manners: Why a Pineapple Symbolizes Hospitality

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend!  We’re still at the beach, but heading home soon.  I’m sure I’ll have some fun beach pictures to follow, sometime soon.

I obviously love the pineapple symbol and know it represents hospitality, but wasn’t quite sure how the pineapple came about being the symbol.  I researched some info on it, and found this:

According to WikiAnswers, Christopher Columbus was the first to write about the pineapple in one of his journals.  He wrote that when he and his men landed on the island of Guadalupe that they were served the sweet, succulent new fruit.  After this, the pineapple was served at most of the native feasts.  Columbus then brought it back to Europe in 1493, and everyone enjoyed the sweet taste of it.  Horticulturists took almost two centuries trying to figure out how to cultivate the pineapple in Europe.  So obviously, the pineapple was a hot commodity.  In the 1600s, King Charles posed for an official portrait while receiving a pineapple as a gift.

In colonial America, hostesses would set a pineapple in the middle of their tables when guests were to come over.  The concept of hospitality was a central element in colonial life.  The pineapple, then, symbolized the warmest welcome a hostess could extend to her guests, and then it was often served as the dessert.

“Creative food display became a competition among the hostesses, because it declared her personality and her family’s social status. Hostesses tried to outdo one another in creating memorable dining events. In larger, more affluent homes, the doors to the dining room were kept closed to create an air of suspense and excitement over the preparations of the hostess. Colonial grocers sometimes rented pineapples to hostesses desperate to create a dining experience above their financial means. Later, once that hostess had returned the pineapple, the fruit would be sold to more affluent clients who could afford to actually buy and eat it. Regardless of ones financial ability to actually buy and eat the pineapple, however, visitors to the homes that displayed the pineapple felt particularly honored that the hostess had spared no expense to secure one in their behalf.”

“By the Gilded Age, which was the era in which Samuel Couples lived, through the present day, the pineapple became a familiar symbolic image of welcome, good cheer, and warmth and affection between all who dwell inside the home.”

Sorry if I bored y’all too much with this, but I thought it was so interesting!  You learn something new everyday, right?

Photo Credits:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

34 thoughts on “Monday Manners: Why a Pineapple Symbolizes Hospitality

  1. Thanks for the history lesson!
    I remembered learning this at a tour of a plantation:
    When guest would come over to spend a few days, they were greeted with a pineapple. But if they over stayed their welcome, they would find half a pineapple at the foot of their bed. This was an unspoken signal that it was time for them to leave. Isn’t that just like southerners, they wanted to avoid face to face conflict.

  2. Really interesting! I knew that the pineapple was a symbol of hospitality but I never took the time to learn the origin of the symbolism.

  3. Hey girl! Hope your having a great time at the beach! This was a great post and so interesting! Rhianna's comment is very interesting too about the half a pineapple. Can't wait to see your pictures! xoxo

  4. I have been waiting for your post about this! I knew that it had to come eventually and I am absolutely loving it. In the north we really don't use the pineapple at all… but honestly I wish that we did. I love the symbol of it and what it represents! Hope you're having a fabulous day!


  5. Excellent post, so informative! Hope you don't mind if I supply a link to this on one of my posts this week!
    And I love pineapples, to eat and decorate with!

  6. I had no idea. None. I love to learn new things. Thanks for posting. I hope you had a great weekend. Can't wait to see the beach photos. 🙂

  7. What a great post – I've always wondered how the pineapple came to be known as a symbol of hospitality, and now I know! 🙂

  8. Ashley, thanks for sharing this! It's great that no matter where or when, you can always learn something new 🙂

  9. I've been trying to post the same comment forever and it keeps timing out. Boo! So sorry if you end up getting 12 from me!

    Your post is quite informative. I am going to plan some great pineapple themed hostess gifts and I'll have a great story to pass along too.

    PS: I'm looking forward to tomorrow. You are too sweet!

  10. Hope you're enjoying the beach and the Memorial Day weekend! I love pineapples too! So interesting about the pineapples and their history! Thanks for the heads up on the award! I will look for it tomorrow since I'll be less busy!

  11. I absolutely LOVE this post! In my family, when attending a summer event such as a picnic, pool party, or less formal event in leui or bringing a bottle of wine or flowers we bring PINEAPPLES! My husband can even gut the it and turn into a vase for the day! And the smell, so sweet!

  12. That you for the info! I always knew that the pineapple was a sign of hospitality, but I never knew the story behind it! I think every house needs a pineapple (of course, I grew up in the south, so of course I do!). We always had one growing up! Excited for my award, woo hoo! You guys have a safe trip back from the beach!

  13. Loved this! I really enjoyed reading it and now I want to go decorate with pineapples! 🙂 Really, we love to open our front doors during the winter time in South Florida and I would love pineapple door stops (two of them, one for each door). Need to find some!
    Have a great day!!!

  14. Love pineapples! My mom has them all over our house (well technically my parent's house now haha). Ahhh, there is nothing like some good Southern hospitality!

  15. I don't want to throw cold water on your explanation but…it looks
    like you are just continuing the myth. Here from Colonial
    Williamsburg's web site is the actual story.

    The myth of the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality is powerful. The
    usual story goes that the pineapple was served to guests as an
    expression of hospitality because it was so rare. Rare it was, and
    relatively expensive, coming from the West Indian tropics to American
    colonial ports—the pineapple would have been a treat on any colonial
    table. But there is no evidence that anyone at the time thought of the
    fruit as a symbol of hospitality.

    Early Spanish and Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to
    notice the fruit, called na-na by the natives. The Portuguese ananaz
    and the Spanish ananas may derive from that word, but the English
    called the fruit a “pine-apple,” a word heretofore interchangeable
    with “pine-cone,” because it so resembled the pinecones they knew. The
    pinecone had strong and ancient ties to Dionysus, the Greek god of
    wine—Bacchus to the Romans—who carried a thyrsus, a staff entwined
    with grape vines and topped by a pinecone. That association relates to
    the use of pine resin in wine making. Since classical times, the
    pinecone has symbolized fertility and regeneration and has been used
    as a decorative motif. It is the pinecone that the colonists were
    using in their decorative arts, evoking the classical symbolism that
    they, educated in the classics, would have understood well. Amateur
    historian Melvin Fulks, who has spent decades gathering information
    about origins of pineapple/pinecone symbolism, says that the earliest
    incidence of the pineapple-as-hospitality story he has found is in a
    1935 book about Hawaii.

    Otherwise nice blog.

  16. When we were in Nantucket, we learned that when a sea captain was on a long journey they often brought home the delicious pineapple fruit. They would put the pineapple on their gate as a symbol to the neighbors that the captain was home and all were welcome to visit. Often times the visitors would receive a gift of a pineapple. We were told that on Nantucket, the pineapple was a sign of hospitality because it symbolized a welcome to the community to visit. It was also hospitable to give friends the pineapple as a gift.

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