Monday, December 6, 2010

pineapple history

Hi bloggy friends,
I'm enjoying this discussion regarding pineapples, and look forward to sewing the pineapple block, but in the meantime thought I'd share a little history.

Many antique quilts sport pineapples - often appliqued or in the quilting design itself.  Traditionally pineapples mean hospitality.

The pineapple as an almost universal symbol of warmth and hospitality has its origins in Spain (“pina” after the pinecone), where villagers placed the fruit at the entrance to a village to welcome visitors.

This symbolism spread to Europe & North America. It is said that in New England ship’s captains would impale a pineapple on their porch railing to announce their return from a voyage and signal that they were accepting visitors.

In colonial America, hostesses would set a fresh pineapple in the center of their dining table when visitors joined their families.

Visiting was the primary means of entertainment and cultural exchange, so the concept of hospitality was a central element in colonial life.

The pineapple, then, symbolized the warmest welcome a hostess could extend to her guests, and then often it also served as the dessert for the meal. If the visitors spent the night, they would be given a bedroom with a bed in which pineapples had been carved on either the bedposts or the headboard -- even if that was the master bedroom.

Creative food display became a competition among the hostesses, because it declared her personality and her family's social status. Hostesses tried to outdo one another in creating memorable dining events. 
Colonial grocers sometimes rented pineapples to hostesses desperate to create a dining experience above their financial means. Later, once that hostess had returned the pineapple, the fruit would be sold to more affluent clients who could afford to actually buy and eat it. Regardless of ones financial ability to actually buy and eat the pineapple, however, visitors to the homes that displayed the pineapple felt particularly honored that the hostess had spared no expense to secure one in their behalf.
How fortunate we are that pineapples are now so afforadable!


  1. Thank you Kate. That was very interesting; and the patterns you showed are very beautiful, too.

  2. I love reading this blog. Got to start my own quilt soon!
    Love the examples you have shown here.

  3. Thanks for the information Kate. I love all three examples of the pineapples!!

  4. I too enjoyed reading about one of my favorite welcome symbols. Those applique photos are lovely and I do love cross hatch is ever so pretty!

  5. I love that Roche pineapple quilt, too.

  6. Good post Kate. I was hoping you might say something about strawberries to support my hypothesis. But I think it is pretty well accepted now that block #3 is pineapples.

  7. I love the history that is entwined in quilts. Thanks for the information. I knew the pineapple has an important role in hospitality, but had no idea of all this, thanks for taking the time and sharing with us.

  8. I enjoyed reading your blogs about the pineapple history and pot of flowers. The pineapples are cool, and coincidentally, I've been blogging about a quilt that has a pineapple in a pot of flowers in one of the blocks. It's in my December 2nd blog, 2nd picture down.



  9. I have a question for the group regarding background fabric and if this quilt is using up all of the 11 yards it lists as needing, or if people are finding they have leftovers with that amount.
    I ask because I bought all of this one fabric I could find...7 yards...and was wondering if I'll be able to get by, or if I'll have to start a fabric hunt for more.


  10. Hi Jenne. I believe it will, unless you piece some of the the background squares. If you examine the cutting layout for the blocks and border, you'll see there is little leftovers. Good luck sourcing the extra 4 yards.