My search for jolly New Years images led me to the odd imagery of pigs as a recurring trope. I have vague memories of marzipan piggies ( and mushrooms) given as gifts by my German Nana, but no clear understanding of their meaning.
This funny little trio ,amongst more conventional symbols of luck and prosperity, four leafed clovers and coins, intrigued me and prompted a closer look.
Plus I love pigs.
The mushrooms in this image are quite similar to the marzipan treats of my childhood, still unclear as to the implied symbolism.
I admire the pattern created by the Lucky Clover.
The perversity of the image above fascinated and repulsed ( I am essentially vegetarian, more so after this postcard).
There is a certain cultural cruelty that finds this sort of image so amusing.
In a recent New York Times editorial,Jessica B. Harris details the African American”culinary trinity”as being greens,beans and pig. Her understanding is decidedly less optimistic then the Teuton tradition, “The pork is a remembrance of our enslaved forebears, who were given the less noble parts of the pig as food”.
I suggest you read the article, it is a fascinating discussion about black-eyed peas, collards, meaning around food and tradition.
From my brief research the Austro-German tradition of the Lucky Pig, Glucksschwein, was particularly popular in the late 19th, early 20th century; the postcard images I have unearthed (and owned) attest to that fact. A quick Google search of contemporary Glucksschwein revealed unimaginable horrors.
I am still perplexed as to why we have lost the ability to design “cute” well.
This image is quite smart, not a hint of cuteness; I particularly admire the restrained palette. The smartly dressed woman in top-hat and crop, a great touch, and the pig is handsomely rendered.
The talented Walter Crane was particularly adept at rendering the Noble Pig, this image from The Baby’s Opera.
So entrenched is the connection of all things porcine to luck, the Germans have an expression “ich habe Schwein gehabt” which apparently translates as “I have had a pig”, culturally understood to mean, “I’ve been lucky”.
No one seems seems to mention the poor piggy.
I do wish my readers a Happy New Year and plenty of Piggy Luck.
An overload of piglet cuteness, if you dare.