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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about the Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty.


CURWOOD: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and candied yams. Yes, they're all on the menu of a typical Thanksgiving meal, but a less well known member of the feast is the cornucopia. Cornucopia is Latin for Horn of Plenty. And during Thanksgiving it symbolizes the prosperity of the Earth. There are a number of stories about this word's origin. One of them comes from ancient Greece. According to this myth, the baby Zeus was nursed on the milk of a goat named Amalthea. One day Zeus broke off one of the goat's horns, blessed it, and from then on the horn overflowed with all the food and drink its owner desired. The goat ended up in the skies as the constellation Capricorn. Another version holds that Zeus's son, Hercules, got into a fight with the river god Achelous. Trying to defend himself, the overmatched Achelous turned himself into a bull. But Hercules wrestled the animal to the ground and pulled one of his horns off. This horn also delivered whatever nourishment was requested. One simpler explanation comes from nature herself. The Horn of Plenty is a tall dark mushroom that is shaped, well, like a horn. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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