Moment of Zen: The Pineapple

The pineapple has long been a popular symbol of hospitality and friendship. This symbolism has a lengthy history beginning when Christopher Columbus and his men landed on the island now known as Guadeloupe on their second voyage of discovery. In 1493, Christopher Columbus brought the fruit back to Europe from his voyage through the Carib Islands. This tropical king of fruits was crowned the “pineapple” by the English because of its resemblance to a pine cone and its juicy center, which reminded them of an apple.
To the Carib, the pineapple symbolized hospitality, and the Spaniards soon learned they were welcome if a pineapple was placed by the entrance to a village. This symbolism spread to Europe, then to Colonial North America, where it became the custom to carve the shape of a pineapple into the columns at the entrance of a plantation. Families often put a fresh pineapple in the center of the table when they had visitors. This was not only a colorful centerpiece but symbolized the greatest welcome and hospitality to the visitor. The fruit would then be served after the meal as a special desert.

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.

Thank goodness, the guy in the picture above seems to be welcoming us.
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About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

5 responses to “Moment of Zen: The Pineapple

  • jaygeemmm

    Wish he'd remove that pineapple!HAHAHAHAPeace <3Jay

  • WranglerMan

    I do not like to stay in other people's homes. in the back of my head, the little voice keeps saying, "After three days, fish and guests start to smell…"

  • JoeBlow

    Jay, hospitality says that she should give it to you as a sign of welcome.WranglerMan, it's according to how well I know the person as to whether I like to stay with them, though I'm not a big fan of people visiting me because of this old adage.

  • fan of casey

    Joe: As you know I live in Hawaii where we have some of the best pineapple but it never really served the same hospitality signal as it does on the mainland. Still, it's a yummy treat. Considering that it takes over 3 years to grow one, it's a great deal at Costco for under $3 each (depending on season, it's either $2.49 or $2.79 each).

  • JoeBlow

    FOC: The hospitality meaning on the mainland comes from it being such a luxury because it came from far away and exotic lands such as Hawaii. Alabama even named a town after the fruit: Pine Apple, Alabama.

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