Spanish proverbs are indeed numerous and many of them refer to the pig and its slaughtering; however, most of these proverbs and sayings are not meaningful in that pertaining to the acorn-fed Ibérico pig.
The festivity of St. Martin is celebrated on November 11th, right when it starts to get cold in the Iberian Peninsula and with the cool weather the traditional slaughtering of pigs takes off in many of the towns and villages of our geography. Hence the well-known proverb “a cada cerdo le llega su San Martín”, loosely translated as “everyone gets his comeuppance in the end”. This saying is so age-old and known that Miguel de Cervantes actually used it in his Don Quixote (II, 62).
Here in Guijuelo, no matter how well known the saying is, we still have to wait a couple more months for the slaughtering season to start, just a bit before the festivity of St. Anthony (January 17th). The reason for this delay is nice and simple: if acorn-fed Ibérico pigs spend about three months free-ranging acorns in the meadows and the acorns actually start ripening towards the end of September, well there is no need to be a mathematical genius to deduce that the most important slaughtering period of the year in Guijuelo cannot take place until at least the end of December or beginning of January. And sometimes this period may even officially extend right through to April 15th, when there are no longer any acorns in the meadows for the pigs to feed on.
In fact, during this campaign, acorn-fed pig “slaughtering” at FISAN started during the last week of December and we are forecasting that it will continue right through to the first week of April.
The importance of the traditional slaughtering period in our culture can be seen in the incredible number of proverbs and sayings that include these dates and that celebrate this seasonal slaughtering. Here below a few examples:
El día de San Lucas (18 de octubre) mata tus puercos y tapa tus cubas. (On St. Luke’s Day (October 18th) slaughter your pigs and cover your casks)
A todo cerdo le llega su San Martín. (Everyone gets his comeuppance in the end)
Por San Martín deja el cerdo de gruñir. (On St. Martin’s Day the pig no longer grunts)
El que mata por los Santos, en el verano come cantos. (He who slaughters on All Saints’ Day, by summer all he can eat will be pebbles)
En San Andrés (30 Noviembre), chico o grande ha de caer. (On St. Andrew’s (November 30th), big or small, under the knife they all go)
Por San Andrés, mata tu res, mala o buena, o como es. (On St. Andrew’s, good, bad or in-between, slaughter your animal)
Por Santa Catalina (25 de noviembre), mata tu cochina. (On St. Catherine’s (November 25th), your sow you must slaughter)
Por Nadal, tu puerco en sal. (By Christmas, your pig in salt should be)
Por San Andrés, toma el puerco por los pies; si no lo puedes tomar, déjalo hasta Navidad. (On St. Andrew’s take your pig by the legs; if you can’t, let him be till Christmas)
A cada lechón le llega su San Antón (17 de Enero). (A variation of “everyone gets his comeuppance in the end”)
There are literally hundreds of proverbs like these, so if you know of any proverb that you find interesting and is used in your area, please add it to this article as a comment. The list may very well turn out to be surprising and, undoubtedly, entertaining!