The History Of Picnics

Remember the days of old!!  Picnicking with friends near a watering hole, at the baseball game, or in the park.  During the summer we needed no excuse to organize an impromptu picnic on the spot.  Sometimes these picnics were no more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some quarter water (watered down kool aide that costs $.25).

The oldest print evidence of the word picnic in the English language can be traced back to 1748, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The word picnic was known in France, Germany, and Sweden before it became part of the English society.

Framed Art

Picnics were not always something that happened on the grass with a blanket.  Hundreds of years ago, a picnic meant a potluck, an entertainment at which each person contributed some dish to a common table for all to share. The change in the meaning of the term, from “everyone bringing some food” to “everyone eating out of doors” seems to have been completed by the 1860s.

Look at the 14th century in Europe their earliest picnics were medieval hunting feasts mainly in England.  Just before the beginning of any hunt there was a special importance of gathering for a picnic and the main foods that could be found at these feasts would be hams, baked meats and pastries.


The cooking and packing up of food and beverages, picking out that spot to meet in.  Sometimes even sending someone ahead of the group to hold down the spot right under the big tree in the right hand corner of the field was needed.  We had so much fun and so many laughs, we knew no better.  We had warm weather, sunny skies and our dearest friends.

That was then and just like the evolution of picnics from the 1800’s ours grew up as well. Picnics became cold fried chicken, salad, watermelon slices and fun.  Then it became cheap wine, triangle cut sandwiches, cheese, crackers.  For some of us who actually had jobs, it was fine wine, grapes, cheese and crackers, real glasses and fancy napkins.

If you really wanted to show off, you could get some gourmet delicacies which was a true alternative to the traditional selection of sandwiches and salads. It didn’t matter what the fare was as long as you are relaxing, enjoying the scenery and had good company with scrumptious foods you are picnicking!