Making a Thanksgiving Cornucopia

By: Barbara J. Feldman

Also called a Horn of Plenty, the cornucopia has evolved into a iconic symbol of Thanksgiving and abundance. The original ancient Greek cornucopia was a curved goat's horn overflowing with fruit and grain It symbolized the horn possessed by Zeus's nurse, the Greek nymph Amalthaea, which could be filled with whatever the owner wished. Today's traditional Thanksgiving cornucopias are often filled with a mixture of small pumpkins, gourds and fruits that symbolize the harvest. They are sometimes accented with whole nuts or dried berries, perhaps as a nod to their pilgrim beginnings during the festival of Thanksgiving.

Although Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, not all of the United States looks exactly the same when celebrating Thanksgiving. While we think of a traditional Thanksgiving as a chilly fall or even winter day, some parts of the country are experiencing balmy weather. We may think of Thanksgiving as a time to cozy up next to a fire wearing our favorite wool sweater, but in some states Thanksgiving revelers get out of their pools to check their turkey on the grill! So why not have your Thanksgiving cornucopia reflect your own personal Thanksgiving celebration?

If you live in California or (or any coastal state that experiences warm weather at Thanksgiving) why not have your cornucopia reflect that? A beautiful cornucopia spilling out citrus fruit would be spectacular. Just round up a selection of your favorite fruits like lemons, limes and oranges. Using small toothpicks you could anchor the fruit to a floral oasis and then to each other to prevent them from rolling out of the basket. Build your cornucopia one piece at a time until you achieve the overflowing look you want. To garnish the arrangement, consider using smaller citrus like kumquats and lemon leaves tucked between the fruit. This will give it a more finished look. One of the benefits of using this kind of centerpiece is that your guests can disassemble it to snack on during or after the big meal!

No one ever said that a Thanksgiving cornucopia had to only be edible. If you live in a warm Southern state there are spectacular flowers that are still in bloom at Thanksgiving time. Consider filling your Thanksgiving cornucopia with a selection of magnolia blossoms, orchids or other indigenous flowers from your area. The effect could be breathtakingly beautiful with a little effort. Just remember the look of a cornucopia is always one that is slightly overfilled.

Creative Southwestern Thanksgiving celebrations have featured cornucopias filled with Native American artifacts (as a nod to some of the first Thanksgiving participants) or even cornucopias filled with red rock and cactus as a reflection of the surrounding landscape. The beauty and ease of this type of cornucopia is that you can fill it with whatever reflects your own personal Thanksgiving celebration.

If you live in the Midwestern States or the "Bread Belt" of the country, consider making a Thanksgiving cornucopia that reflects that. Using frozen bread dough shaped over a colander, you can form the horn of plenty. Bake following the package directions and then fill your cornucopia with dinner rolls your guests can eat during the Thanksgiving meal!

By using a little creativity and whatever you have on hand, you can put together a very special Thanksgiving cornucopia that is a reflection of your own personal gratitude. And isn't that really what Thanksgiving is all about?

For more Thanksgiving centerpieces, crafts, games, and coloring pages visit Thanksgiving Centerpieces.

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