National Pig Day – Give a Chanchito


Piglet (Petr Kratochvil via Wiki Commons)

National Pig Day

Happy National Pig Day! March 1 is one of those weird little holidays, like Dance like a Chicken Day (May 14) or Defy Superstition Day (September 13). (See more at According to Wikipedia, National Pig Day was invented in 1972 by two sisters and its purpose is:

“To accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.”

Not surprisingly, it is mostly celebrated in the Midwest.

Yay, pigs

I’m not sure if we’re supposed to revere the pig or eat the pig, but it is fairly well known that pigs are intelligent animals.  According to this NY Times article,

“Wild pigs live in long-term social groups, keeping track of one another as individuals, the better to protect against predation. They also root around for difficult food sources, requiring a dexterity of the snout not unlike the handiness of a monkey.

Other researchers have found that pigs are brilliant at remembering where food stores are cached and how big each stash is relative to the rest. They’ve shown that Pig A can almost instantly learn to follow Pig B when the second pig shows signs of knowing where good food is stored, and that Pig B will try to deceive the pursuing pig and throw it off the trail so that Pig B can hog its food in peace.”

Pigs have many similarities to the human genome and their valves are even used in human heart transplants. If you just think of them are filthy animals, there is a reason they roll around in the mud: to cool down, because they lack sweat glands.

Chanchito, lucky pig sculpture from Chile (Photo: Nance Carter)

Chanchito, lucky pig from Chile (Photo: Nance Carter)

Chanchitos lucky pig

If you’ve been to Chile or visited certain museums, you may have seen a full bellied clay sculpture of a three-legged pig. This is a Chanchito. It is a good luck talisman. Chanchitos  originated in Pomaire, a town in Chile, about 30 miles from Santiago. The land there is rich in clay and therefore pottery has been a tradition since the 17th Century.

I purchased my little Chanchito on a trip to the National Museum of the American Indian (the old Customs House) in Manhattan a few years ago, and it sits on my kitchen windowsill. The museum was made in the Beaux-Arts style and is spectacular. If you are ever in Lower Manhattan, stop by – both for the architecture and Native American history.

National Museum of the American Indian (Photo: By Stuart Sevastos (Natural History Museum of the American Indian) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

National Museum of the American Indian (Photo: Stuart Sevastos, CC BY 2.0 via Wiki Commons)

If it looks familiar, the building has been featured in many movies and TV shows, including Black Swan, Ghostbusters II, Godfather III. I used to work a couple of blocks away and one day noticed a sign saying a movie was to be filmed there so I asked the crew which one, and they said Batman Forever. My son was (is) a huge Batman fan so I made arrangements to get him there in time and we watched Tommy Lee Jones and company film outside. In one memorable scene, Batman jumped from the left first floor window. In the finished movie, they CGI’d it so it looks like he jumped from 50 stories up.  Movie magic..

Today is also meteorological Spring – a good day to put Winter away.

March 1, 2016

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