inNovember 17, 2011 - 5:18pm
The Cornucopia, a popular Thanksgiving symbol, has its roots in Greek mythology. The story is that Zeus was nurtured and nursed by Almathea, the goat goddess. One day while playing Zeus accidently broke off the horn of the goat and Almathea, in reverence, offers the broken horn back to Zeus. To show his love and care of her, Zeus promises that the broken horn will always be filled with what she desires. The Greeks always depicted the horn filled with grain, fruit and flowers—the abundance of the earth. Strictly translated, Cornucopia means Horn (cornu) of Plenty (copia).
Through the ages, the horn, now a cone-shaped basket, has always represented an abundant harvest, gracious giving, and God’s blessing and provision. But I like the other half of the story—it starts with brokenness. I find that the Cornucopia is the perfect symbol of that first Thanksgiving.
William Bradford, one of the pilgrims, wrote:
"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty . . . All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached. And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."
The Mayflower embarked from England with 102 passengers and 25-30 crew. At the end of that first harsh year at Plymouth colony and celebrating their first successful harvest were just 53 people: 4 married women, 14 adolescents, 13 young children and 22 men. We all know the stories of their hardships—their brokenness that came before the plenty of that first Thanksgiving celebration.
For us, the cornucopia is a fitting symbol this Thanksgiving. Our RV travels this year have found us in an earthquake, a tornado, a hurricane, a micro-burst, and now a Nor’easter that has left us without power which may last several more weeks (thank goodness we have a generator!) Cowboy Rick continues to battle cancer and we are grieving the death of my mother. In a word—we feel broken!
But Thanksgiving is almost here and so I will choose to reflect on our Cornucopia of blessings instead of the trials of this past year. We have many things for which to be thankful including a new house to go home to, the best doctors in the country, the marriages of two of our children, our first grandchild on the way, the love of our family, a successful year in our shops and many new friends. So I will wear and display this symbol of the season with great joy. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the good things in life as well and find your own Horn of Plenty.
My favorite Cornucopia of all time has to be this HAR enameled horn filled with delightful glass dangling fruit. From plastic Hallmark brightly colored pins to rhinestone and flower brooches by Coro, Trifari and others, there are plenty available and it is early enough to snag one or two for your own display of hope and gratefulness.