October 21, 2021
Happy Fall Y’all!
(Yes, I’m still a Texas girl at heart even though I’ve lived in Colorado for 13 years now!)
For our fall stewardship theme, Table of Abundance, we are using a cornucopia as a visual representation of the abundance of God’s provision for us at Calvary and beyond. Each week, a member of the stewardship committee is sharing about an aspect of Calvary’s ministry and adding an item to our collective cornucopia on the Communion Table, which is the place where we remember and celebrate Christ’s abundant love and grace. These items include:
- WHEAT – An Abundant Faith (spiritual growth & faith formation)
- GRAPES – Offering our Abundance (missions)
- PUMPKIN – Building on our Abundance (property/resources)
- CORN – The Abundance we Treasure (collective wisdom, compassion, & care)
- CANNED FRUIT/JAM – Sharing our Abundance (community involvement & advocacy)
And on Commitment Sunday, November 14, youwill have an opportunity to add your own “Gratitude Gourd” to Calvary’s Cornucopia. Our Table of Abundance will not be complete without your gratitudes and gifts.
In celebration of this theme, I thought I’d share some fun facts with you about the cornucopia:
- NAME: The word comes from the Latin roots of cornu (horn) and copia (plenty). Since classical antiquity the “horn of plenty” has been a symbol of abundance and nourishment.
- SHAPE: It’s commonly a large horn-shaped container (often a basket) overflowing with items like produce, flowers, or nuts. Traditionally used in western Asia and Europe to hold and carry newly harvested foods, the horn-shaped basket was worn on the back or slung around the torso, leaving the harvester’s hands free for picking.
- CONTENTS: Originally, the cornucopia was made of a real goat’s horn and filled with fruits and grains and placed in the center of the table. But nowadays you can stuff cornucopias with leaves, branches, acorns, miniature pumpkins, gourds, cranberries, chocolate, and more! Don’t be afraid to overstuff your cornucopia. The idea is to create a horn of plenty, so you want it to spill out onto the table!
- IN MYTHOLOGY, ART, & HISTORY: Depictions of the cornucopia go back as far as the 5th century B.C.
- Many of the earliest references to cornucopias are found in Greek and Roman mythology. Greek legend states that as a little boy, Zeus (king of all the gods), had to be banished to a cave so his cannibal father didn’t eat him. While hiding out in the cave, a goat named Amalthea watched over Zeus and nursed him. Zeus, while suckling at the teat of the magic goat, broke off its horn, which began to pour forth a never-ending supply of nourishment. The goat’s horn came to represent endless bounty because it had the power to provide food/nourishment without end. The goat was revered by Zeus and was placed in the sky as the constellation Capricorn.
- The ancient Romans, in their bid to appropriate the mythology of the ancient Greeks, told the story a bit differently. According to Ovid’s mock-epic poem, Metamorphoses, it was Hercules who created the horn. In the poem, the hero Theseus comes upon the moping river god, Achelous, and notices that one of his horns is missing. The pouting river spirit then tells the tale of how he battled Hercules over the hand of a woman, and in the end Hercules snapped off one of his horns. Nymphs filled it with “the choicest fruits of the autumn” and it became the holy symbol for plenty.
- The cornucopia has since become the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities, particularly those associated with the harvest, prosperity, or spiritual abundance, such as personifications of Earth (Gaia or Terra); the child Plutus, god of riches and son of the grain goddess Demeter; the nymph Maia; and Fortuna, the goddess of luck, who had the power to grant prosperity.
- In Roman Imperial cult, abstract Roman deities who fostered peace (pax Romana) and prosperity were also depicted with a cornucopia, including Abundantia, "Abundance" personified, and Annona, goddess of the grain supply to the city of Rome.
- Even after the end of the Classical Age, cornucopias continued to pop up over the centuries in depictions of the classical gods, such as a 17th-century Rubens painting of the goddess Abundantia. Thanks to its appearances in artwork that portrayed pastoral abundance, the cornucopia became a symbol of the harvest season, and its image morphed from its origin as an actual horn to just a horn-shaped basket. It also became a more common physical artifact found at harvest festivals.
- Drinking from horns was common in Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece, and in cultures all over the world, including the Vikings, the Germanic tribes, the Celts, and Romans. Lavishly decorated drinking horns made from ivory with gold, silver, and enamel decorations were produced as luxury items in 19th to early 20th century imperial Austria and Germany. These extravagant vessels were designed to mimic the mythological cornucopia.
- In the United States, the wicker basket cornucopia filled with fruits and vegetables is closely tied to the first Thanksgiving, which was a three-day festival celebration of the fall harvest with the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. However, it is unclear exactly when the cornucopia became associated with Turkey Day. It’s not impossible that there was an actual cornucopia at what is considered the original Thanksgiving in 1621, but there is no record of the decoration.
- FUN FACTS:
- At the 1904 St. Louis World’s fair, the first waffle cone was referred to as the “World’s Fair Cornucopia,” because of its cone-like shape. A fitting name, as waffle cones are quite big—cones of plentiful ice cream, indeed.
- The Black Trumpet mushroom is named after the cornucopia, scientifically referred to as Craterellus cornucopiodes.
- Two cornucopias are seen in the flag and state seal of Idaho. The Great Seal of North Carolina depicts Liberty standing and Plenty holding a cornucopia. The coat of arms of Colombia, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, and the Coat of Arms of the State of Victoria, Australia, also feature the cornucopia, symbolizing prosperity.
As we all reflect on the abundance of God’s good gifts to us, may you hold the image of the cornucopia in your mind – a symbol of abundance, nourishment, and plenty. What can you add to the cornucopia of blessings at Calvary? What you and I give will allow our ministry to overflow in 2022 and beyond!
~ Pastor Anne