St Anthony’s Day and the Pig Slaughtering Tradition

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Spain celebrated its day of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals.

Towns throughout Spain celebrated by churches throwing their doors open for the annual benediction (blessing) of animals, in the Marina Baixa area the small inland community of Relleu celebrated with their famous pig slaughtering ceremony, only in name now as the pigs used have already been humanely killed.

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There might seem a contradiction between the annual porquejada or pig slaughtering and the celebration of Spain’s patron saint of animals day, but St Anthony was also associated in particular with the care of pigs, as well as all ‘lower order’ animals.

The traditional porquejada is done as a homage to the original slaughter of the pigs that for centuries occurred in the fields; though these days with the use of already slaughtered pigs the ceremony has converted itself into another traditional fiesta, and a way of local villages promoting their locally produced products such as embutidos (sausage, and black puddings).

The pig meat is auctioned off and its proceeds go to help fund other good causes in the towns concerned.

Finestrat, in its own version of the ceremony, held a raffle on the steps of its St Bartholomew church, followed by an auction of the slaughtered pig, and in La Nucia (Church of the Immaculate Conception), Alfas (San Jose), Benidorm (Sanz Chapel) and all other towns in the Marina Baixa, the traditional blessings were given throughout the week.

Photo credit: StopFoto

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