There are some things that are synonymous with fall: changing leaves, pumpkins, turkeys, and of course, the cornucopia.
A cornucopia filled with fruits and vegetables is something we see on decorations, in people’s homes, and in storefronts all throughout the fall months.
But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? What is a cornucopia, exactly? Where did it come from and why do we use it today?
This Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to share the story of the cornucopia with all your loved ones.
Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about the cornucopia.
What is a Cornucopia?
What exactly is a cornucopia?
The word cornucopia actually has Latin origins, with ‘cornu’ meaning horn and ‘copiae’ meaning abundance.
For a long time, the cornucopia has been used as a harvest symbol, and it’s associated with plentiful bounty.
Today, a cornucopia is usually made from bread, hay, twine, or some other product. But, back in the day, a real goat’s horn was used and it was typically filled with fruits and grains.
This horn then sat at the center of a table of lavish food.
The origin of the cornucopia actually has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or pilgrims.
The cornucopia actually has its origins in Greek mythology. In fact, there are several Greek myths surrounding its origin.
One of the most popular myths involves the birth of the Greek god Zeus. When Zeus was born, he had to be hidden and protected from his father, Kronus.
Zeus was hidden on the island of Crete in a cave, and he was cared for by a number of goddesses.
When Zeus was playing with one of his nursemaid’s horns, he accidentally broke it off. But, this proved to be a very fortunate accident, as the horn then provided unending nourishment.
Another origin myth involves Hercules wrestling the river god Achelous. During the fight, Achelous shapeshifted into a bull in an attempt to win. But, Hercules was still able to defeat Achelous and he tore off one of his horns in the process.
After tearing off the horn, the water nymphs took it, consecrated it, and filled it with fragrant flowers. Then, the Goddess of Plenty adorned the horn and named it cornucopia.
The cornucopia is also a symbol that’s associated with many Greek and Roman deities. Particularly, it’s associated with those who represent spiritual abundance, prosperity, and harvest.
Deities that the cornucopia is associated with include Plutus, Fortuna, Maia, Abundantia, Hades, and Annona.
In modern representations of the cornucopia, we typically see it as a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket that’s filled with fruits, vegetables, and Thanksgiving flowers.
As we know, most of the US and North America associates the cornucopia with Thanksgiving and the fall season. However, the cornucopia is also a symbol that’s used in other parts of the world.
For example, the image of the cornucopia is on both the state seal and the flag of Idaho. The coat of arms of Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru all feature the cornucopia, as do the coat of arms of Victoria, Australia, Huntingdonshire, England, and Kharkiv, Ukraine.
The cornucopia has also made its way into literature and other art forms. For example, it’s used as a motif throughout the infamous Hunger Games series. And, it’s also used in Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novels.
Outside of Thanksgiving, many people still decorate their houses with cornucopias throughout the year as a house blessing and a sign of a new season.
How to Style a Cornucopia
While a cornucopia makes a great fall decoration, it can also be used to decorate your home year-round. Here are some different ways you can style your cornucopia and use it as a decoration:
- For a moody and chic look, you can fill a cornucopia with grapes, apples, and purple cabbage
- For an outdoor decoration, you can create a cornucopia wreath that includes fall leaves, faux pumpkins, and wheat and hang it on your front door
- Bake an edible cornucopia and fill it with cheese, breadsticks, veggies, fruits, and place some dips and sauces next to it (this makes for a great holiday party treat)
- Get a wicker cornucopia and fill it with gourds, pumpkins, leaves, flowers, and fruits for some classic autumn decor
- Fill a cornucopia with moss for some interesting and easy plant-like decor
As you can see, there are a lot of ways you can decorate your home with a cornucopia and keep the symbol alive.
How to Bake a Cornucopia
If you want to take your Thanksgiving to the next level, we suggest baking your own cornucopia.
The intricate design will undoubtedly impress your guests. But, the good news is that baking a cornucopia is easier than you think.
To start, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 3 containers (11 ounces) of refrigerated soft breadstick dough
Then, here’s what you need to do to make the cornucopia:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a cookie sheet
- Take a 30 by 18-inch sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold it in half
- Fold the sheet diagonally to form a cone and fasten the end with clear tape
- Bend the tail of the cone up and then down
- Stuff it with crumpled foil for support
- Spray the outside of the cone with cooking spray and place it on the baking sheet
- Beat the egg with water in order to create a glaze
- Separate the breadsticks
- Wrap one breadstick around the tip of the cone and brush it with the glaze
- Continue spiral wrapping the breadsticks in a slightly overlapping manner
- Do this until there are three breadsticks left
- Pinch the ends of the three breadsticks together and then braid them together
- Brush the cornucopia with the rest of the glaze and then gently attach the braid
- Bake for 45 minutes or until bread is a nice brown
- Remove from oven and let the cornucopia cool completely
- Remove the inside foil once it’s completely cool
After it’s cooled, you can fill your cornucopia with whatever you wish.
What is a Cornucopia?: Wrapping Up This Holiday Staple
Now that you can answer the question, “What is a cornucopia?” it’s time to share your knowledge with others.
And, if you liked this post, be sure to check back in with our blog for more interesting facts and stories.