Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ho Ho Ho! Have a Pineapple.

Pineapple hanging outside a home in Annapolis, MD.
Oh, how the year passes. And once again it's that special season where we rig up twinkling lights, hang mistletoe near unsuspecting crushes, and stake a big pineapple outside our front door to alert the neighbors that we've returned from a long sea voyage and are ready to receive social callers.

Not one of your cherished holiday pastimes? Me neither. Mine is to sit around in sweatpants and eat a box of those white chocolate-covered Oreos while sobbing over the intrinsic beauty of The Little Drummer Boy claymation.
OMG, right?
Courtesy of Christmas Specials Wiki.

To be fair, the whole pineapple-on-a-stake calling card may have never happened. Yet pineapples were a large component of 18th century art, architecture and table decor, particularly at Christmas; and they were costly and exotic fruits that when gifted or served, were considered a great honor and treat to the recipient. I have to agree. It's a delicious fruit with a surprisingly pleasing and artistic shape, for all that it's so thorny. I loved seeing pineapples everywhere at Colonial Williamsburg, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them decorating houses in Annapolis, MD as well.
Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Marketplace. Buy it here!
Not everyone agrees, however, that the pineapple was particularly associated with hospitality. If you're a nerd who likes reading about pineapples, on Team Pineapple is history buff and New Jersey-dweller Hoag Levins, and on Team Edward is History Myths Debunked.

Colonial Williamsburg maintains a tactfully neutral Switzerland response, saying we can't really know for sure, but someone in the 1930's started decorating Colonial Williamsburg that way, so what the heck you only live once, let's sell them in the gift shop.

Can we really ever know, and does it matter all that much? I mean, why is there a custom of hiding a pickle in your Christmas tree that I only heard of last year? Is this really a thing?

The truth is, before scientists could diagnose everyone with S.A.D. disorder, we had to come up with festive ways to stave off suicide through the dark and cold winter months. Pickles and pineapples are delicious, so why shouldn't they become accidental symbols of merry-making and good company?

What are your weird winter solstice/Christmas/Chanukah/4 hours of sunlight survival traditions?

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