If you say the word several times fast it sounds a bit funny. But, the picnic is one of the few things in history that means basically what it did in the beginning when the concept was first introduced. Here is a short history of the activity known as the picnic.
It is believed that the word “picnic” came from the French word, piquer, which for those of you who didn’t choose to take French in high school, means “to pick.” The first picnics were more formal. But, the concept was that the invited guests brought something to share with the entire group. In France, it was wine and the picnic was held in a bistro like setting.
The picnic then turned into a much needed rest from hunting. In Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, hunting was a sport of the rich and famous with little dogs and a poor fox. People would sit and relax while eating and drinking and laughing.
Still, in keeping with the bourgeoisie class, picnics moved away from hunting to social gatherings. Each person still contributed something to the occasion, whether a meal or some sort of game. The food served was cold since the only thing you had was a blanket and there were no outdoor cooking places.
Picnics have come a long way in a short time. People began using public parks when the government opened them to citizens. You could bring your blanket, your basket full of goodies, and relax under a shady tree to watch the ducks swim by as you enjoyed a delicious meal. What a great way to get some much needed relaxation and fun.
Once the picnic moved to the park, parks began providing benches and various forms of protection for picnic guests. After a good rain the ground is not exactly hospitable to blankets and bottoms. Shelters mean that even if it rains, the group is safe and dry while they wait it out.
Now the occasion for a picnic can be a gathering of friends, church members, family, or an intimate meeting of two lovebirds. The food no longer has to be cold cuts and soda pop. City parks provide outdoor grills so picnickers can enjoy burgers and hotdogs just like in their own backyard.
Parks also provide activities for the group if they want to do something more than play board games or throw the Frisbee. Paddle boats, hiking trails, and bikes for rent give everyone their choice of what they want to do for the day.
When invited to a picnic, it is still customary to bring something to contribute to the meal. This way, no one person has to pay for everything or prepare the entire meal on their own. And, everyone still has fun away from home.