Accepted paper:

From pigsticking to festival: changes in economy and ritual in the Hungarian countryside


Bea Vidacs

Paper short abstract:

House-based pig-raising declined in Hungary with the disappearance of secure markets after socialism. Pig-sticking is also on the wane. In my fieldsite, the community reenacts pig-sticking in a festival. Festivalization transforms the event from an economic one to a ritual and political one.

Paper long abstract:

The paper examines transformations that have taken place in the economic practice of pig-sticking in an Eastern Hungarian village over the last three decades. Currently, the practice is waning: due to the decreased demand and lack of secure marketing opportunities, people do not raise pigs as they used to under socialism, when it was one of their main sources of income. Traditionally, pork products produced by the household during the winter season were also a mainstay of the diet. Nowadays, even when people do carry out a pig-sticking they often take shortcuts, such as buying the pig just before pig-sticking, hiring a butcher or only buying a few kilograms of meat to do a "limited" pig-sticking. At the same, however, another process is taking place. The village has created a pig-sticking festival for the community as a whole that "reenacts" the pig-stickings of yore, albeit on a much larger scale and with different goals and outcomes. The traditional pig-sticking was primarily a house-based economic event provisioning households, and creating cohesion and solidarity between individual households that participated in labor exchange or through the sharing of some of the products of pig-sticking. The festival turns the economic event into a village ritual that is as important for the reinforcing local hierarchies and for the creation of local community as for creating links with the world beyond the village.

panel W120
Economy and ritual