National Pig Day, celebrated annually on March 1, is the perfect time to celebrate how much pigs have become part of American culture. We see pigs in art, costumes, stuffed animals, collectables, piggy banks, movies, books and, of course, on the dinner table. Pigs have lived throughout the country on farms and in zoos for many years and even in our homes as pets! It’s only fitting to have a day dedicated to this easily recognizable, endearing creature and learn more about how they are part of our culture and history.
History of National Pig Day
Fossil records show pigs roamed the Earth as early as 40 million years ago, and the animals’ descendants are believed to have first been domesticated around 9,000 years ago in current day China and parts of western Asia. Later, about 3,500 years ago, Romans introduced breeding for pigs. Pork consumption was banned in parts of Asia and the Middle East, however, Europans continued refining purpose-driven pig breeds up to the 1500’s.
It was around this time when domesticated pigs first set “hoof” on North American soils. Christopher Columbus is believed to have eight pigs along his journey while travelling to Cuba in 1493 after his initial voyage to the “New World.” Columbus’ successor in exploring the America’s, Hernando de Soto, brought 13 of the animals with him when first landing in today’s Tampa Bay, Florida, making the first domesticated pigs in what would become the United States of America.
National Pig Day began in 1972 when two sisters, Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave, decided it was time “to accord to the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals”.
The first official celebration took place that year with the intent of the holiday to respectfully remember the pig as opposed to serving it as the main meal. Since then, cities across the country plan fun events such as a “snort off” competition, pig parades, and pig-themed arts and crafts activities.
As with dogs and cats, potbellied pigs have made great pets and there are over 1 million of them throughout the US and Canada today. For most people, the most frequent interaction with pigs is indeed at the dinner table. Pork is the most popular meat worldwide with over 80 million tons produced each year making up 40% of all meat consumption. We would be remiss to not mention our appreciation for all things pork as we celebrate National Pig Day.
National Pig Day timeline
People begin using the Chinese zodiac as a predictor of the future, dividing into repeating cycles of 12 years with each year represented by an animal, one of which is the pig.
Spanish explorer, Hernando DeSoto, “father of the American pork industry”, first introduces domesticated pigs to the U.S. bringing 15 to Tampa Bay, Florida.
Porky Pig debuts on the big screen and is the longest standing Looney Tunes character of all time.
The oldest pig on record, Ernestine, lives to the ripe old age of 22 years and 359 days; she passes in 2014 in Alberta, Canada.
At 23 years old, Baby Jane becomes the oldest pig in captivity ever.
National Pig Day FAQs
What is the biggest breed of pig in the world?
The world record for the heaviest pig so far is held by Big Bill, owned by Elias Buford Butler of Jackson, Tennessee. It was a Poland China breed of hog that tipped the scales at 2,552 lb in 1933.
Is March 1 National Pig Day?
National Pig Day is a holiday that is dedicated to the celebration of the pig. This holiday – which is celebrated on March 1st every year – is celebrated in most parts of the Midwest in the United States.
What is the smallest pig in the world?
The smallest breed of domesticated pig in the world is the Kunekune. However, it is not the size of the kunekune breed that makes it most suitable as a pet. It’s personality, temperament and ease of management which has been celebrated for over hundreds of years and generations.
How To Celebrate National Pig Day
Learn about some famous pigs
We know several lovable, fictitious pigs! Read a book or watch a movie about some of America’s favorite and most famous swine. The top 10 most famous piggies include Wilbur, from the book Charlotte’s Web, Porky Pig, Plopper, Homer Simpsons’ adopted pig and of course, Miss Piggy!
Visit a local farm
Learn about pigs from the experts. There are many petting zoos on local farms that allow visitors to get up close and personal to their drove plus hear about how they live, what they eat and how they are cared for.
Volunteer at a pig rescue farm
As with cats and dogs, when the adoption of a potbellied pig doesn’t work out, they can be surrendered to a pig rescue farm. Clearly not the ideal ending to an adoption so if there is one in your area, today would be a wonderful day to visit, volunteer and play with these sweet piggies.
5 Fascinating Facts About Pigs
A pig’s squeal can reach 115 decibels, which is 3 decibels above a supersonic jet!
Super taste buds
Pigs have 15,000 taste buds compared to the 9,000 of a human being.
Pigs can run up to 11 miles per hour.
Pigs can drink up to 14 gallons of water per day.
Pigs communicate with each other using 20 different vocalizations.
Why We Love National Pig Day
They are smart
Pigs are believed to be one of the smartest animals! Only the chimpanzee, dolphin and elephant are ranked smarter in the animal kingdom. Pigs are easier to domesticate than dogs and they have been trained to do some pretty cool things including play video games, distinguish smells, use a litter box and recognize symbols. They even understand mirrors are reflections and not windows. We don’t just love them for their beauty but also for their brains!
They look on the bright side
Pigs are curious and love to explore. While this ties into their intelligence, it also makes them optimists. Their zest for learning new things coupled with their social nature and natural intuition make them happy animals.
This one word packs a powerful punch. We’ve all heard the saying “bacon makes everything better.” Bacon is one of the oldest meats in the world and, with over 2 billion pounds produced each year, it continues to make many of us very happy.
National Pig Day dates