Skip to main content

The Story of the Pineapple

September 7, 2023

A symbol of welcoming and hospitality.

There is a long and wonderful history of why the pineapple is associated with hospitality and gathering together. It is one that has found favor and popularity again in the mainstream, and I am more then a little bit thankful for this because on a fundamental level it means that people care about how they treat one another.

According to legend, ship captains would spear a pineapple on a fence post outside their home to let friends know of their safe return from sea. The pineapple was an invitation to visit, share food and drink, and listen to tales of his voyage. Visitors learned they were welcome if a pineapple was placed by the entrance to a village. As the tradition grew, colonial innkeepers added the pineapple to their signs and advertisements, and bedposts carved in the shape of a pineapple were a common sight at inns across the Eastern seaboard.

According to historical documents, Christopher Columbus discovered the pineapple on his second trip to the Caribbean in 1493. They returned to Europe, where the pineapples became a symbol of great wealth, as European gardeners were not able to grow the fruits in the correct conditions until well into the 1600s. Honored and distinguished guests were gifted the extremely fashionable pineapples by royalty. Following this, and despite how expensive and fragile they were, colonial trade of the pineapple dramatically increased in the 1600's and 1700's, solidifying the item as a status symbol.

As time passed the trend continued, and hostesses scrambled to have the expensive, prickly fruit decorating their tables. Pineapples have adorned tabletops even continuing through the 1950s in America, where pineapple upside-down cakes and gelatin molds abounded. Thankfully we're back to fresher more natural versions nowadays.

It was this continuing popularity that eventually gave life to the host of architectural or ornamental pieces that you see today (i.e. door knockers, lamps, and decorated china and serving pieces).

Hopefully this gives you some ideas about how to decorate your home and table for this upcoming season when we're all able to gather together again!