Pigs at Christmas have German beginnings. As with most customs there are different stories depending on who you speak to but the information below is thought to be the most accurate.
A marzipan pig is a confection made of marzipan, a paste of almonds and sugar, and formed into the shape of a small pig. In Germany, Norway and Denmark, the gift of a marzipan pig at Christmas and New Year's symbolizes good luck and fortune in the year to come. Marzipan pigs are sometimes presented with four-leaf clovers, coins or other symbols of good luck in their mouths.
Pigs and Good Luck
A common saying in Germany is "ich habe Schwein gehabt," (translated: "I have had pig"), which means "I've been lucky." The saying is believed to have originated with German farm families, who counted themselves lucky if they had a pig, which meant they would have meat to survive the winter. In the late 19th and early 20th century the Glucksschwein, or lucky pig, became a popular symbol on German greeting cards, charms, Christmas ornaments and holiday treats, including chocolate, peppermint and marzipan pigs.
- In Germany, a marzipan pig is given as a gift or stocking stuffer between Christmas and New Year's Day to bestow good fortune on friends and loved ones in the coming year. In Norway and Denmark, a tradition involves a rice pudding or porridge with a whole almond baked inside. The individual who finds the almond in their dish receives a prize, usually a lucky marzipan pig.
- The tradition of the famous Peppermint Pig™ started ages ago in the 1880's with candy makers in Saratoga Springs NY. It's a festive way to celebrate the holidays, and the tradition is even more popular today than it was throughout its early years.
- In Victorian culture, the pig represented good health, happiness and prosperity. Old fashioned candy makers fashioned the Peppermint Pigs™ each year during the holiday season. These sweet treats were made of hard peppermint candy --similar in taste and texture to a candy cane -- and appropriately colored a very festive pink!
- When families gathered together at Christmas for the holiday meal, the tradition was to break the Peppermint Pig™ after dinner (inside a small cloth pouch) using a miniature hammer. All family members would then share in eating the sweet candy pieces, hoping for good fortune in the coming year.
- Today, the Peppermint Pig™ remains a fun and heartwarming tradition at holiday tables all around the nation. In addition to the traditional 8-oz. Peppermint Pig™ there is also a 3-oz. Peppermint "Piglet" -- either would certainly make a sweet and memorable holiday tradition... with Victorian roots!
- Though the Peppermint Pig™ is sold all over the nation, Saratoga County is its hometown, and to this day they are made nowhere else.