Locally in Costa Rica, the Easter season is very tropical, with many people going to the beach and spending time relaxing with family. While the Easter bunny is not a countrywide institution as it is in the United States, many families have their own traditions that they observe.
With Easter quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about tradition and pineapple. Why pineapple? For one, pineapple is one of Costa Rica’s largest exports. Pineapple has also helped establish many traditions throughout time.
Before the 20th century, getting your hands on a pineapple took a lot of effort. While the sweet fruit grew throughout the Caribbean and South America, supply chains weren’t as efficient as they are today, and that made pineapple availability scarce outside of those regions. This led to pineapples becoming a highly sought-after indulgence and status symbol amongst the elite class.
Eventually, pineapples became a traditional symbol of hospitality, as those returning home from traveling to the tropics would often place a pineapple at the entrance to their home, signifying that all were welcome. As time went on, pineapple-shaped ornamentation was created for doorways or gateposts, or given away as a symbol of friendship.
Today, pineapples are grown in many places around the world, with enough produced each year for every person on the planet to have two. In fact according to IRI, from 2012 through 2015, pineapple volume has grown a total of 19%.
Pineapples are also known as a great fruit for holidays, and there are a few points during the year that experience significant pineapple sales increases. The largest holiday for pineapple sales is Easter, which accounted for 4% of annual sales in 2014, and represents a sales increase of 79% from the week prior.
It also wouldn’t be Easter if pineapple wasn’t a part of the menu somehow. Pineapple is a versatile fruit that can be paired with other items, such as a fruit salad, or as part of the main dish, like ham, for Easter. With so many meal time uses for pineapple, it only makes sense that it’s consumed more over the noon hour than any other time during the day. It is also consumed more than most fruits for dinner, just in case you have a late Easter meal.
Finally, while it may be easier to get your hands on a pineapple today than it was in the 19th century, their growing cycle still takes 12-14 months. So while you may be able to purchase a pineapple every day from your local retailer, growers have meticulously taken care of the crop year round. It’s their passion for pineapple that allows us to enjoy it today.
Yes, if there was an official fruit of Easter, the pineapple would be it.
As you prepare for Easter this year, think pineapple. Whether you give it as a gift or serve it as a part of your meal, the sweet taste of pineapple will only be exceeded by your thoughtfulness, friendship, and hospitality.