Once again THASC artist Donna Cushman graces this blog with another spectacular painting. Her work is even more astounding when you think that she paints with a brush in her mouth. This card has the elements of Thanksgiving and Christmas with the cornucopia overflowing with fresh fruit and surrounded by holly and holly berries, all depicted in captivating bright colors.
The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, comes from two Latin words: Cornu meaning “horn” and Copiae meaning “abundance or plenty.” We usually associate the cornucopia as the symbol of Thanksgiving in North America. In olden times, it referred to a horn-shaped basket filled with vegetables and fruits and sometimes garnished with flowers, as we see the poinsettias in Donna’s painting. The origins of the horn are found in two legends of Greek mythology. One version is the legend of Amalthea and Zeus, the powerful god who from infancy was raised on the milk of the goat Amalthea (“Nourishing Goddess”). One day, the strong, future king of the gods, accidentally broke off one of her horns. Regretfully, he ensured her to always fill the horn with whatever she wished: eternal abundance. Zeus also placed Amalthea among the constellations in the heavens.
Another version of the legend is that of Hercules, son of Zeus, who battles Achelous, the river god, to win the river nymph Deianira, daughter of King Oeneus. To win the contest, Achelous transformed himself into a bull, but Hercules was too strong and ripped off one of his horns. Deianira and Hercules kept Achelous’s horn and filled it with flowers and fruits at their own wedding.
Today the cornucopia is usually a horn-shaped wicker basket filled with festive fruits, vegetables and nuts. In the book and film series The Hunger Games, the cornucopia is filled with weapons and marks the starting point of the Games. The Cornucopia is also used today as a symbol on the Idaho, Wisconsin and Peru flags. Donna Cushman reminds us that the cornucopia is much more than a pretty decoration at Holiday time, but also a reminder of America’s gratitude for the good things life has given us.
Wisconsin and Idaho State Flags
See you on Thursday.