The Origin Of The Picnic!
A Brief History Of The Picnic
Ever wonder where the word Picnic comes from?
Picnic is actually a very old term. Most people believe picnic is taken from the French word,
picque-nique, which first appeared at the end of the seventeenth century. It wasn't
until 200 years later that The Picnic Society made picnic a common English word. We get
"pic" from the French word piquer. The nique part is most likely just a reiteration
(such as English words like hoity-toity).
The French picnic referred to a fashionable type of social
entertainment in which each person who attended the picnic brought a share of the food in the first
picnic baskets. This element
was picked up in other picnic terms, such as picnic society. A picnic society described gatherings of
educated people where everyone was expected to perform at the picnic or contribute in some other way to
the success of the picnic. The association of picnic an outdoor meal didn't appear in English until
about the middle of the nineteenth century. Around this time
picnic blankets first appeared.
In the early 19th century, a group of wealthy people living in London formed
The Picnic Society for purposes of entertainment and promoting the idea of the
picnic. They envisioned the picnic as a social gathering at which each participant would
bring food to be shared with everyone. Each and every member of a picnic was expected to
provide a share of the entertainment as well as their fair share of the refreshments. The
idea of mutual sharing and cooperation among all those attended the picnic was fundamental
to the original significance of the picnic.
Much later picnic took on the additional meaning of an outdoor pleasure party. Nowadays
one thinks of a picnic as a casual meal. Modern picnics can be provisioned by only one cook.
What matters in a modern picnic is that the food is eaten outdoors. Picnic, as it is now used,
includes almost every type of informal outdoor meal; clambake, barbecue (BBQ), or fish fry.
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