Pineapples: A Symbol of Hospitality
King Charles receiving a pineapple.
Pineapple flowers look amazing in native arrangements.
Pineapples are traditionally a welcome gift in the tropics. Centuries ago however, modes of transportation were relatively slow and fresh pineapples (being perishable) were a rare luxury and coveted delicacy.
The fresh pineapple was highly sought after, becoming a true symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centerpiece, and she would be awarded much social awe and recognition. Colonial confectioners sometimes rented pineapples to households by the day. Later, the same fruit was sold to other, more affluent clients who actually ate it.
In the 1600s, the pineapple remained so uncommon, and such a coveted commodity, that King Charles II of England posed for an official portrait in an act then symbolic of royal privilege - receiving a pineapple as a gift.
During the 20th century, the pineapple primarily symbolized hospitality. American Sea Captains placed the fruit outside their homes to signal to friends that they had returned after a voyage. It was this act that began the trend of stone pineapples being placed at the entrance of fine properties.
Pineapples appeared frequently in the decorative arts on gates, bedposts, crockery, napkins, tablecloths and door knockers. This pineapple fountain (pictured) can be found in Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
Did you know: The pineapple was used by political cartoonists during the Napoleonic Wars to symbolize extravagance. Find out more pineapple facts.
Learn about the different varieties of pineapples