Everybody in the Czech Republic knows about this custom: who fasts on Christmas Eve will see a golden pig in the evening. But what are its origins?
Our pagan ancestors used to celebrate a midwinter day, attributed to December 21. The shortest day of the year was considered the birth of the Sun god and arrival of the fertile season.
At the end of this day, our ancestors ate roasted pork (Czechs say: dozlatova opečené – roasted till its golden), which was believed to give them some of the sun’s strength.
When Christian priests couldn’t get the habit out of people’s consciousnesses, they took the tradition as their own and commanded fasting on Christmas eve.
In the past, parents even cut out shapes of pigs and projected them with various glasses on the wall to amuse their children and reward them for fasting.
A Christmas tradition that’s become popular in its own right is a commercial for a Czech soda that features the story of the golden pig. In the commercial, a father tells his daughter the story, and…the pig appears. (Sort of.)
This commercial is so well-liked that it’s been aired each year since its debut, a decade ago.