Picnic Recipes and Games

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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