In a search for information about picnics, we found that Wikipedia.org informed us that the French first printed the word, pique-nique, in 1692. The verb “piquer” means to pick or peck and “nique” means of little importance. Formerly a picnic mean a potluck, where everyone either bought a dish or wine to share with others. Appropriately, the word picnic first appeared in print in English in the mid eighth century.
Picnics are mentioned in literature, have been depicted in art, used for political protest and can idiomatically describe a difficult task. In the late twentieth century, a spurious email was circulated, saying that the word picnic was derived from the choosing of slaves, but snopes.com/ urban legends refutes this with an accurate history of the word.
Whatever the origin, the word picnic conjures up a vision of a plaid rug on the grass in the shade of a big tree or a table with benches in a wooded park. A picnic can be a family affair, maybe a reunion, a small gathering of a few friends or a very romantic event for just two.
A picnic can be very simple – a sandwich, some fruit and a drink, but some picnics are very elaborate affairs, with linen tablecloths, fancy china and crystal. These, of course, are not called picnics, but instead are outdoor dining events, usually planned as a fundraiser for some charity or other.
There are some very attractive and functional ways to transport the picnic necessities for a small group. A plastic cooler somehow does not blend in with a beautiful landscape, wild flowers and soft breezes, whereas a fitted picnic basket and a matching wine cooler are very elegant. A fine picnic basket would make a great gift, especially now that the holidays are on the horizon.
Recipe books have ideas for foods that can be conveniently transported, suggestions for keeping these fresh, etc. One must be very careful not to eat some foods that have been “unrefrigerated” for two hours or more, especially any dish containing mayonnaise.
In 1908, a musical piece, composed by British composer, John Bratton, that was originally titled “The Teddy Bear Two-step” was renamed the “Teddy Bears Picnic.”
What a delightful imaginary picture- Teddy Bears having fun at a picnic. President Theodore Roosevelt, who it is claimed, wave “Teddys” his name, must have been pleased!