PIG SLAUGHTERING, ETHICS AND TRADITION: A STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
An article that wanted to talk about the countryside history and pig slaughtering in accordance with the last day that the tradition says to be useful for the slaughter, the 17th of January. We ended up talking about ethics and tradition
Pigs usually slaughtered at home, and according to a very long countryside tradition, less hypocrite then what happens in an industrial establishment, because the person butchering listen to the scream of an animal that knows what is going to happen.
It’s a tremendous experience because killing is awful (here, the intense scene of the slaughtering and butchering of the pig in Ermanno Olmi’s masterpiece “L’albero degli zoccoli”, a movie about the countryside life at the end of ‘800). But often the land ritual implies, as a revolutionary Orthodox ideology says, a unique justification: you do what you have to do.
Right or wrong, tradition had a need, which can be summarized with a regional saying: ”who gets married is happy one day, who slaughters the pig is happy the whole year”).
The pig’s history close to men and also inside men’s houses has stared in the Neolithic, and it has always been the same with some innovations for centuries. Unchanged because among the Etruscan archaeological finds in Bagnolo S.Vito (Mantova), have been found what remains of pigs without those parts normally used for hams. Always different because in the preparation, from the Middle Age, every farmer has its own traditions and secrets.
The thing that does not really change is the slaughtering period, which in the countryside has been codified between the 13th of December and the 17th of January. Cold is essential for the meat preservation, while for countrysides it is necessary to butcher the pig with the crescent moon (it is believed) and women with their period should not take part. Why? Because after the countryside principle “you do what you have to do” there is another one, also fundamental: “it has always been done like this, and it should be done this way.”
There is no conclusion
I do not really know how to end this article. Maybe I don’t even remember what I wanted to say as I found myself talking about tradition starting from ethical topics.
If I think about it, maybe I know why I did it. I believe all those moral problems raised by those people defending animals to be right. But on the other hand, I think in need (today less and less “necessary”), and I miss a world that belongs to common roots of many Italians (and not only).
In the end, it is clear what I wanted to say here in a few words. Darwin said <<brothers, companions, and slaves>>, as it was the man (and in some cases it was), for other men. So I feel the need to express the split that everybody has touched these topics, where ethics and tradition (in few words what our inner itself is made of) don’t seem to meet.
But I would like that with this small and superficial article, at least, in the end, there is an invitation not to answer with false exasperation that, at the same level, an aseptic relationship just like the industrial one and intransigent/dogmatic/sectarian points of view impose to nutrition and farming.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)