Friday, July 8, 2011

What's with all of the decorative pineapples?


Decorative pineapples adorn doors, fountains, and the headboards of beds in Annapolis and many other towns and cities along the East Coast.  Not being from this region of the United States, it was interesting for me to learn that the pineapple has served as a sign of hospitality and welcome since Colonial days when sailors would place a pineapple in front of their house to signal their safe return from sea and their readiness to share tales of their adventures with friends.

Interestingly enough, legend has it that King Louis XIV of France didn't find pineapples so welcoming when he eagerly bit into his first one without peeling it and injured his lips on the spiky skin.  Louis XV, however, found pineapples to be so deliciously sweet that he directed his gardeners to grow them in a greenhouse at Versailles in the winter of 1733.

And what is the sign of a really warm welcome?  A pineapple on a red door!  After reading one of Joseph's recent posts,  in which he explains that a red door may indicate that a house is mortgage-free, I was curious to find out more.  It turns out that red doors were also a sign of hospitality in Colonial America signaling that the owners would offer accommodation to weary travelers.

Signs of hospitality in Annapolis:

A red door with a pineapple under the light
A black door with a pineapple under the light
A red door with a pineapple

2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post! I am a native New Englander living in Paris. On one of mine and my French boyfriend's first trips back to Massachusetts together I remember him being baffled by all of the pineapples everywhere, all over Old Deerfield Village, Nantucket, Boston, Stockbridge, and even my parent's front door! I grew up with a slight obsession with Colonial America. American Girl, Felicity, was my favorite, for those familiar with the American Girl series. Perhaps that is where I first learned of the Pineapple's significance. Although I'm sure the answer would have presented itself naturally to an observant child noticing the curious abundance of decorative pineapples being used in their own and neighboring homes. I love learning the history behind things and was proud to explain a story reflective of true Colonial American culture to my befuddled Frenchman.

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  2. Sarah,

    Thanks for sharing the story about your French boyfriend being baffled by the pineapples in New England. I was, too! After reading your comment, I had to google Old Deerfield Village and Stockbridge because their names sound so picturesque. They look like towns that I should visit the next time that I'm in Boston.

    It's a good thing that you like history! It makes living in Paris so much more interesting. I feel as if I'm taking a crash course in French History and all of the connections with the United States are fascinating.

    Many thanks for commenting!

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