If there's one animal that divides humanity with its symbology, it is the pig. To some cultures it's a gluttonous, dirty, lazy, obstinate beast: not a suitable animal to own, and especially not one you should eat. To others it's a beautiful and complex creature, one of extremely high intelligence, and even a possible loving family companion… and then there's people who will just see a bacon sandwich.
The Chinese viewed the pig with such high regard that they included it in their horoscope - albeit slightly tainted by laziness as the pig was the last animal to arrive at the Emperors meeting, and so was given the 12th and last position in the Chinese zodiac. But if you are born during the year of the pig, you are blessed and bestowed with determination, honesty, helpfulness, and sincerity - which certainly makes up for being a tad late every now and again.
One of the reasons why pigs are seen as such dirty animals is because they are often seen rolling around in the mud. But the reason why these clever creatures do this is because, unlike us, they don't actually have the sweat glands to regulate their body temperature, so other than shade, mud is the only way they can keep cool on a hot day; a lot of pigs also have quite pale skin, in which case a fresh all-body mudpack also acts as a serious sun-screen.
In a previous blog post we learnt how the Greek goddess Persephone brings us spring when she returns from her annual winter underworld holiday spent beside her husband, Hades, King of the Dead. In ancient Greece, to mark the return of the Goddess Persephone and the coming of spring, women would hold a three day festival which would involve the bizarre ritual of Thesmophoria: where reared piglets would be sacrificed and thrown to the earth, whilst the piggy remains of the previous years sacrifice would be dug up and then mixed with the soil to fertilise the coming future crop. Thankfully, as any rose gardener will tell you, it's not the actual pig but their manure which is used to enrich soil today.
Image © Daniel Mackie
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In Greek mythology, Halcyone and Ceyx were lovers who incurred the wrath of the god Zeus by mocking him and his wife. Angered, Zeus killed Ceyx.