The Christmas Pig

P1110160One of the most traditional events around Christmastime in Romania is the slaughtering of the pig.  Ask nearly any Romanian what Christmas means to them and the killing of the pig, a family affair, is almost always mentioned.  Santa Claus and presents are high at the top of the list, the birth of Jesus might be mentioned, but the pig is truly a big deal.

Our neighbors introduced us to their Christmas pigs when we arrived this summer.  This week we were present when the swine were dispatched to hog heaven in the most traditional of manners.  Just after sunrise we bundled up like Eskimos and tromped next door to observe the ritual.  For the children, I considered this a great educational and cultural opportunity.  Echoing my nonchalance about the whole affair, they remained undisturbed while the pig squealed like a shrieking eel and the blade slit the jugular in one brief motion. “Why is smoke coming from the blood?” they asked.  “It’s steam.  Blood is warm inside the body.  But when it touches the cold air and cold cement it makes steam.”  Oh, so many questions. Having recently watched the Magic School Bus episode on the human body, they were also eager to see the heart and other organs.  They were not disappointed.   Learning doesn’t stop on vacation!

The photos aren’t too graphic, but we made a video that spares no detail, complete with the vocal grace of Charlotte Church.   Click on the first photo and it will enlarge, showing the full caption and enabling you to click right to view the next photo in a slideshow.


2 responses to “The Christmas Pig”

  1. I don’t know what they did with the feet, but I’m sure they didn’t end up in the trash. They filled several tubs with cuts of meat salted/brined. Does that count as pickling? The Romanians involved in the pig kill all loved the skin and were chopping away while working.

  2. Thank you for preparing such a fun video. Such a perfect example how kids imitate their parent’s attitudes. You were casual about the whole affair, so they were too. Great teaching! And Grandpa Bud would find a soul mate in Isaiah. He loved pig skin and pickled pigs feet. Do the neighbours pickle the feet, too? You gotta try it!

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