The New Year Lucky Pig, Glucksschwein

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.

postmarked 1909

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.

ca. 1904


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.

A bit can be learned from our 19th century forebears.

Although saccharine cute, who can resist a leprechaun, shamrocks, liquor, and a pig?

I am still perplexed as to why we have lost the ability to design “cute” well.

ca. 1899


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.

I love the phrase”throwing pearls before swine”, this handsome beast seems to deserve such splendor.


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.

Currier & Ives


An overload of piglet cuteness, if you dare.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

9 Responses to “The New Year Lucky Pig, Glucksschwein”

  1. Wild pigs were sacred in Celtic culture representing both the celebration of the feast and the endeavor of the hunt. May your hunting and feasting be lucky in 2011! Best, Kendra

  2. That’s great , if I have an affection for domestic pigs, I adore boar!
    Thank you my friend!

  3. I especially love the pig with the fork and knife in his back! ha! I’m a vegan, so I have the same twisted sense of humor, obviously. But then again, I have always found happy cartoon pigs as the logos for BBQ joints equally amusing. Oh, Porky, we hardly knew ye!

    I will have to offer a gentle remonstrance though – I think your “Leprechaun” may actually be a German gnome, four leaf clovers notwithstanding, and one who is appropriately in his cups for New Year revelry! I love that so many Victorian New Year cards have alcohol freely flowing.

    Have a gorgeous new year and may all 2,011 of your wishes come true!

  4. Thank you for the Gnome alert, i think you are quite correct.
    And yes, those happy simmering piggies in cauldrons always perversely funny.
    I think i may become a stricter vegetarian in 2011, my trainer be damned!
    Wishing you joy and beauty,

  5. Great, great images! I love pigs and have had a collection of interesting postcards and antique and vintage figurines in a variety of styles and from different periods. There is a post on my blog The Great Within about themI had never heard of the German association of pigs and luck. I will no use the expression, ““ich habe Schwein gehabt” which fits nicely with my German heritage. We have a similar albeit vulgar expression here about pigs and happiness. “Happy as a pig in sh*t!” Happy New Year! And thanks for a great post.

  6. things that make you happy…

    […]The New Year Lucky Pig, Glucksschwein « Babylon Baroque[…]…

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