Monthly Gem: Horn of Plenty

A cornucopia made of bread, prepared for Thanksgiving in 2005.

The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, is a large tuba-shaped basket or container which is generally shown as over-flowing with a mixture of fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts, etc.  It has become a well-recognized symbol of harvest time and abundance.  In North America, particularly the United States, the horn has come to be associated with a traditional Thanksgiving Holiday feast.  But the horn originated from antiquity.

Roman Goddess Fortuna (aka Lady Luck)

Greek Mythology offers several colorful stories explaining the origins of the horn.  The two most popular each had a mythological creature violently “losing” one of its horns, which then became known as the horn of plenty.  Subsequently, several Greek and Roman Deities are depicted with a horn as their “trademark” symbol…particularly deities associated with the harvest, prosperity and abundance.  For example, Gaia the personification of earth, Fortuna the Goddess of Luck, and Plutus God of Riches.

Today, the horn can be seen on many symbolic emblems.  It is visualized on the flag and state seal of Idaho, the coat of arms of Columbia, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and Victoria, Australia.   Perhaps the most recent and conspicuous use of the Cornucopia symbol is within The Hunger Games Series (book/movie).th-5

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Monthly Gem: All Hallows’ Eve

Me, at the start of the “Corn Maze” (Halloween Day 2009)

Halloween (a colloquial shortening of All Hallows’ Eve) is traditionally celebrated on October 31st and refers to the day before All Saints’ Day (November 1st) in the same way that Christmas Eve refers to the day before Christmas.  All Saints’ Day is a celebratory feast honoring all the saints (Christian and Catholic alike). The concept of “saints” differs across denomination, but whatever the belief system, the saints are celebrated on November 1st.

Pumpkin Patch (Halloween Day 2009)

Halloween grew out of this Christian/Catholic tradition, but by contrast was set aside to acknowledge and honor the dead, including saints (Hallows), martyrs and departed believers.  Conversely, some believe that Halloween originated as a Celtic harvest festival, which was pagan in nature.  No matter which historical account one supports, the majority of Halloween celebrations consist of using “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.”

Even today, the typical Halloween or Harvest Festival/Octoberfest celebration (as some churches have come to refer to them as) include some form of “trick-or-treating”, costuming, pumpkins-carving and general tomfoolery (pranks, scary stories, “haunted houses”, etc.)

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Monthly Gem: Autumnal Equinox

“It is the summer’s great last heat, It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.” -Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

The autumnal equinox is the first day of fall, which this year falls on September 23, 2015 at 4:21am (ET).  The word equinox means “equal night”; night and day are about the same length of time.  This occurs two times each year, Vernal in late March and Autumnal in later September.  In addition to the equal hours of daylight and darkness, the equinoxes are times when the Sun’s apparent motion undergoes the most rapid change.  Around the time of the equinoxes, variations in the position of the horizon where the Sun rises and sets changes from day to day.  This variability can be seen with the naked eye for the keen observer.  Starting with the onset of fall, the temperature will begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights.

Copyright © 2015 by D. Alyce Domain  All Rights Reserved.

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