Although cruel, the tradition of pig slaughtering is ancient and not many Romanians are happy to let it go. But the tradition is not a symbol of cruelty – its purpose is not “entertainment.” This is the way archaic Romanians used to sacrifice pigs to feed their families at Christmas.
This Christmas, as the Christmas before, I will be in Germany – in Schweich, a nice little town on the Mosel.
For the past eight years the longing for the Romanian traditions and spirit kept me somehow away from the simple joys of the Xmas. Germany is so different. Many traditions are similar – the Christmas tree is still a Christmas tree. The mulled whine tastes as good here as it tastes at home. But that’s about it. Somehow… there’s no real joy here. Not even at the Trier Christmas Market, so famous in the region…
Families get together, eat together, sing together. But the Christmas carols don’t have the sad beauty of a Romanian carol.
The traditional Christmas food in Germany is somehow plain. There’s nothing really special about it. Romania has its Christmas traditions that sometimes remind of pagan rituals: the pig slaughtering is cruel, yet it’s been a Christmas tradition for as far as I can remember.
As a child I was so scared every time I heard the screams of the dieing animals. Now I doubt I can ever watch another pig slaughtering without crying for the poor innocent animals that die to make our Christmas table richer.
I remember my grandma sharing a tear for the animals being sacrificed each Christmas. Things I couldn’t understand back then come back to me now and I cannot help but wonder: is this a tradition we should actually keep? Romanians are not cruel people. This tradition finds its roots back in the illo tempore – in ancient times no one really recalls.
Image credit Raluca Nicula.
With the admittance of Romania in the EU the slaughtering needs to go. Yet the EU will let Romania continue slaughtering pigs for Xmas in the traditional way. The reasoning behind this is simple: if killing bulls in the arena for entertainment purposes is legal, why should the Romanian tradition go, when its purpose is not as cruel as the corrida?
Modern, less cruel methods to sacrifice the animals have to replace it. And it will take time till they will find their way in all the Romanian villages and be accepted by the Romanian peasants who inherited this method from their ancestors.
Well, although a cruel tradition, I do miss being there when all my family gathered together to prepare the traditional pork food. The whole pig slaughtering ritual is special not because of the way the pig is actually sacrificed, but because of what follows after. All the members of the family work together to prepare the food for the Christmas meal.
The pigs are slaughtered on December 20th, the feast of St. Ignatius. Legends say that the pigs actually dream their death – that could explain why in the night preceding their sacrifice all the pigs in the village “whine”.
Image credit Milan.tobik
After the sacrifice, there are only four days left to prepare the meat, make sausages, melt the fat and so on. Each day ends with a little feast. This is what I miss: being home, at my grandma’s and preparing that food with all my family. Sitting by the fire and singing, telling stories, praying together, listening to my grandma’s voice blessing our meal.