July 19, 2024


Elegant home interior

What Does the Pineapple Symbolize?

The influence of the pineapple fruit is apparent in the enchanting array of decorations available that use the pineapple form as part of its creation. We hear of architectural elements like pineapple pedestals, pineapple brackets and corbels as well as pineapple wall sculptures, and of its use in the kitchen in the form of pineapple napkin holders and trivets as well as bookends to grace your desk and library with hospitality and an air of friendliness and warmth. The pineapple has indeed a colorful history spanning from colonial times and is today heralded as the princess of fruits and credited as the symbol of hospitality and welcome. To give the pineapple as a gift conveys your intention to promote friendliness and graciousness to the recipient. The pineapple began initially as the fruit of the wealthy and guests were revered and charmed when a pineapple was placed amidst their presence in the dining area for that indicated the amount of respect and consideration the hostess besot upon them. Colonial America drew a refreshing and inspiring means in using the pineapple motif in indulging their guests to the table and for a night spent at their home. Fresh pineapples were welcomed and appreciated as an expensive dessert for guests while the thought of spending time in a room heavily decorated with pineapple designs in the bedposts or headboards were considered luxurious and gratifying.

The Origin of the Pineapple: The pineapple fruit may have originated from Brazil and Paraguay in South America where it reportedly received a boost into the European markets through Christopher Columbus who discovered the pineapple fruit in Guadeloupe in 1493. It was nicknamed the “pina” since it looked very much like a pinecone and brought to Spain. Sir Walter Raleigh was also very interested in the pineapple which he affectionately termed as the princess fruit. The interest in bringing this fruit into Europe then began. However, the Europeans were not sure how to grow the fruit and its arrival into Europe only began around the late 16th Century taking the Europeans almost two long centuries to study and grow this much desired fruit. Once in Europe, this delicious fruit eventually wove its way into Holland and England. The English society was very impressed with the first pineapple created by the Royal Gardener, Mr John Rose for Charles II that it also inspired Hendrick Danckerts to paint the picture of the presentation of the fruit in 1675. The much celebrated pineapple was then grown in India and spread to China and in 1777, made available in the Pacific Islands through Captain Cook.

The Inspiration of the Pineapple: The English who were overwhelmed with the lovely pineapple fruit drew inspiration from its looks and unique shape. As a result, the pineapple fruit inspired the coat of arms and was used as an architectural element in pottery and planters. The artistic appeal and decorative effect that the pineapple fruit rendered were significant and the pineapple symbol inspired bed posts, tablecloths, napkins and napkin holders as well as bookends and candle holders. The symbol of this cherished fruit grew to be represented on any form of decorations that were visibly displayed for guests to enjoy and feel welcomed. Even till today, the pineapple fruit raises much interest in states like Virginia, Hawaii and Florida where the use of pineapple themed accessories and gifts are instrumental in highlighting the peace loving and hospitable people who reside within.

The Medicinal Powers of the Pineapple: The pineapple is also credited with possessing healing powers and records indicate that its tasty juice was used for curing throat infections, arthritis, bronchitis and indigestion. The use of the pineapple for the treatment of diseases was however confined to the natives who originally grew them. It is not certain as to whether this fruit was used for any healing purposes in colonial America. Modern studies also confirms that the fruit contains an enzyme known as “bromelain” which may be used in the treatment of heart disease, combating sinus congestion and also be used in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Fresh pineapple is loaded with Vitamin C and speeds up tissue growth and repair. Worthy of note however is that bromelain is contained in fresh pineapple and canning appears to destroy this enzyme but not the Vitamin C content.

The Entry of the Pineapple into the Americas: Colonists began importing this delicious fruit from the Caribbean in the 17th Century and it soon took root as one of the revered and lavish fruits known available to the wealthy. Since it was difficult to bring in this fruit into the country given that the trade routes where this fruit was procured was considered dangerous, it was considered a marked achievement to bring forth such a rare fruit for the guests. That occasion was almost always reserved for the wealthy class to partake and enjoy but there was also occasion when the pineapple was rented to elevate a person’s rank in society for showing the ability in bringing to the table such an expensive fruit for display. The pineapple fruit then eventually began to take on a new meaning as a symbol of warmth and friendliness. It was the crowning piece used for the large displays of food that the wealthy brought forth to the table. The hostess took much pain and trouble in elevating her family’s social status in colonial American society by introducing pineapple displays as it indicated a resourcefulness in engaging a unique display of food for all to admire and share. History records that New England sea captains would impale a pineapple outside their homes on gateposts or on their front doors as a symbol of safe return after returning from perilous trade routes in the Caribbean or Pacific. Today, commercial production of pineapples is credited in the state of Hawaii and Florida where Hawaii is notably one of the world’s largest producers of canned pineapples.

The Use of the Pineapple Theme in Decorating: Even till today, Americans continue to show interest in decorating the home with pineapple designs. Not only are pineapple designs prevalent in the home in places like the foyer and living areas as well as kitchen, they are also visibly displayed in the form of pineapple finials on gateposts or as fountains for the garden. The use of pineapple plaques highlighted with the warm, inviting words “Welcome to our Home” has become a common sight. Virginia still continues to be one of the primary states that ardently displays pineapple motifs and designs in many of their household accessories, still highlighting the pineapple symbol as the highest form of hospitality rendered. The pineapple symbol is also an accent that is strongly welcomed by their hospitality industry where displays of pineapple themed fixtures and decorations on wall papers and furniture, are legendary. Virginia highlights many tourist destinations that imbibe the use of the pineapple into its architectural landscape. The Shirley Plantation highlights 3.5 feet of wooden pineapple constructed in the late 1700s on the peak of the roof line as a show of hospitality and as an invitation to river travelers coming to the plantation. The establishment also highlights the use of beautiful pineapple motifs within its premises.

No one can therefore dispense the historical, social and economic impact of the pineapple fruit which was once compared to the pinecone. While the production of pineapples have fueled the economies for the states of Florida and Hawaii, the symbolic designs and good looks of the pineapple has also led to much inspiration in decorating concepts and designs using unique pineapple themed accessories for the home and garden. The pineapple also continues to inspire the hospitality industry in many of these states which were responsible for providing this fruit to the rest of the Americas, highlighting the deep meaning attached to the symbol of the pineapple.

Written by Romilla D. for Kaviik’s Accents

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