What does pineapple mean in hospitality? Why does pineapple symbolize hospitality?
As some of you may know (and many of you may not know), the ancient peoples of the New World, recognized the pineapple as a fruit symbolizing friendship and hospitality.
The first recorded encounter with pineapples dates back to 1493 when Christopher Columbus was on his second voyage to explore the Caribbean. While there, some of his crew discovered a myriad of different and unique fruits and vegetables. Pineapples were among those exotic fruits, along with items like cane sugar and avocados. Members of the nobility liked the taste of the fruit so much, that they were willing to pay a high price to get their hands on one and share this new fruit with their friends and family back in Europe. But the highly perishable pineapple couldn’t grow in European climes and cultivation, even in the controlled environment of a hothouse, was extremely difficult.
Throughout the years, European farmers did all they could to create an environment conducive to harvesting pineapples. It took almost two hundred years before gardeners were able to create a perfect hothouse environment that would allow the growth of the tropical fruit. The complexity of growing pineapples is what created the idea that they were a symbol of royal privilege.
The pineapple became a huge hit amongst the royal family.
With the availability of pineapples sparse, the tradition says that if you were attending an event, and the host had a pineapple to offer their guests, you knew that they had pulled out all the stops to create a beautiful event. Additionally, if you were offered a meal that included a pineapple-topped dish, it was considered an honor. In this manner, the pineapple became the symbol of hospitality and gracious hosting.
Families would hang pineapples outside their homes to perfume the entryway and make it welcoming to guests. It was an edible invitation!
The pineapple symbol was also used frequently in the 18th and 19th centuries to decorate bedposts, tablecloths, napkins, and anything associated with welcoming guests. Today, the pineapple remains a fitting symbol for the hospitality industry, and pineapple-themed products still abound. From lamps to candle holders to salt and pepper shakers and beyond, the pineapple motif says…WELCOME!