Monday, January 09, 2006

The last days of diszno

The weeks leading up to Christmas here are a time for festivity, fun, frivolity, and porcine genocide. Over the weeks of advent, I was invited to a number of these public executions at which family and friends gather to drink palinka, eat, chat, and kill and butcher a pig. It's just what you do at this time of year.

Now it's not the kind of thing that really appeals to me (well the social aspect does, but not really the death bit). I've seen and heard pigs killed before (it's a regular occurence in Micronesia) and they die a horrible screaming death. But, I'm all for community minded cultural traditions, and this seems to be one of them. I elected not to go to the ones I was invited to, mostly because I wanted to be available in case Paula started coming, and not to be standing around in some village three sheets to the wind on plum spirit when the phone rang.

But, 2006 promises to be the last year in which this tradition goes on. That is because EU regulations mean that pigs have to be slaughtered in an official slaughterhouse in the official EU-sanctioned way. So Christmases are unlikely to be the same again following accession. And I have no idea how I feel about it. How do I balance the fact that from next year onwards (assuming EU membership is confirmed) pigs will die in a more humane way (I think it involves an instant bolt through the brain or something), against the disappearance of what seems like an important social event in the lives of rural Romanians? Maybe I can institute a new tradition whereby people get together to ferment soy and make Christmas tofu.

(Diszno is pig in Hungarian, by the way).

Hope you like the new little thing that tells you what the weather is like here in Csikszereda at the moment. Frankly I could just put a permanent thing in the side bar that says "It is fucking freezing", but this way you get to see whether the temperature is -10, -20 or -30 degrees.


AlieMalie said...

ahhh ... do you feel that? the 25 C tropical breezes in Texas? I hate it, this is supposed to be WINTER.


I'm sure that somewhere next year someone will have a traditional pig execution. You're sure not to miss out on it completely just because of the accession.

Paul said...

Once in a while the pigs get their revenge...
It's a true story, although it's a bit off I suppose, it being on a humour site.

Anonymous said...

I asked my wife's relatives in Arges about the end of the pig killing under these new EU regulations and they took a pleasingly French attitude towards it all. "I'd like to see the bastards try" being the gist of their response. That said, their (by now late) piggies both had eartags and I assume that there will be some sort of registry and requirement that people explain how their pigs met their ends. I foresee a combination of a healthy black market in abbatoir certificates and a spate of reported attacks by wolves and bears, with predominantly porcine victims.

And as I said, the pig killing I was at (over ten years ago now, it's quite frightening to realise) was terrific fun, even though I realise I don;t have as many scruples in that direction as you do.

Hope you're all well (Sylvia stood up unaided for the first time last night)


Andy H said...

Yes, I suspect that getting round the law will involve greasing the palm of the village copper. This being Romania, that's unlikely to present much of a problem. I mean it's hard to have a big gathering of people at which a pig dies (given the fact that they don't tend to die queitly) without the village policeman knowing. So, I'm guessing they (the police) will gets lots of invites and a fridge full of sausages and other pig related delicacies.