Friday, November 2, 2018

We're All Ears :: November Inspiration :: Cornucopia

Here in the United States we are preparing to celebrate one of our most enduring and beloved national holidays on the fourth Thursday of November: Thanksgiving

The origins of this American holiday are rooted in a three-day harvest celebration of the first pilgrims in Plymouth and their Native American neighbors, the Wampanoag Indian tribe, in 1621. Since that time, celebrations of Thanksgiving have been the norm in the US, and formally recognized by President Abraham Lincoln as a national celebration in 1863, during the midst of the Civil War. This holiday has lost a lot of its previous religious significance and instead consists of a long weekend marked with sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends, punctuated by American football games, turkey, pumpkin pie and the Macy's day parade. But it is a far more important pause if we would only see it as such.

A commonly seen symbol of Thanksgiving is the cornucopia. This is an ancient symbol of abundance that has its roots in the Greek mythology of Zeus. When Zeus was born, his father Cronos killed each of his children by devouring them as he knew that a son was destined to depose him (as he had done with his own father!). Rhea, the wife of Cronos, duped him by wrapping a stone in swaddling clothes that was mistaken for Zeus. A magical goat named Amalthea was enlisted to nurse the divine baby until such time as he would grow up, defeat his father and free his siblings from his father's stomach. They then became the gods on Mount Olympus.  When the magical goat died, Zeus used her hide to create a protective aegis (like a shield) worn by Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. Zeus placed his beloved Amalthea in the sky as the star Capella (Latin for "little goat"). 

Abundantia as depicted by Peter Paul Rubens

In Roman traditions, the cornucopia is depicted with the figures of Abundantia, the personification of abundance and prosperity, or Fortuna, a goddess of luck.

The cornu copia, Latin for"horn of plenty," overflowing with fruits, honey, and grain is an extremely ancient symbol of the harvest and of the overflowing blessings that we each have to share. This motif was known to the Greeks 2000 years before the cornucopia became the symbol of American Thanksgiving. I supposed that since Zeus was kept alive by this magical horned creature, this is a fitting image, symbolizing sharing the gifts that we have in abundance with those that can most benefit from them. A good reminder to us all.

So for the month of November, the month when we turn to gratefulness and reflect on the plentiful abundance we have to offer the world, I think that the cornucopia is the perfect symbol for our inspiration. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with this harvest imagery.


  1. We in El Paso, claim to have the Official first Thanksgiving, Ha, I'm sure it can be Googled. Point is we should all just be grateful. Love this challenge idea and I have been an earring making fool. Can't wait to see this reveal.

  2. That's the packaging for edible marijuana candy here in the state of Arizona, the brand is called Cornucopia, I wish I could take a pic and upload it.