What Exactly is a Cornucopia?

Brooke Newberry
(Photo: )

As Thanksgiving nears we often see many "traditional" images of the Thanksgiving table, often times at its centerpiece is a cornucopia stuffed to the gills with fall's bounty. But why is this strange shaped object taking up room better reserved for stuffing and pie? Let us explain.

Whether it goes by the name 'cornucopia' or 'horn of plenty,' the significance of the piece stays the same. The autumnal centerpiece symbolizes abundance, prosperity and good fortune, and is overflowing with fall flowers, grains, festive fruits, nuts and leaves.

The origins of the cornucopia lie in Greek mythology. The horn may have originally been that of a goat which the infant Zeus used to drink from. A goat named Amalthea watched over Zeus and as she was nursing him, he accidentally pulled off her horn. Zeus then gave the horn the power of endless bounty and promised her that the horn would always bring her what she desired.  In the U.S. the symbol has become one of great harvest. Because an actual horn on the table is kind of gross and not that easy to fill, cornucopias today are typically woven baskets. Check out the image above and make your own quirky fall centerpiece.

* Revised by Josh Schaffer on 11/7/14

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