The Return Trip 2000 – 5

Duelling Pigs

It must be something in human nature that makes people want to compete. You know the contestants who vie for Homecoming Queen, who want to win the tractor pull at the County Fair, or grow the biggest pumpkin. Vietnam is no different. Why in Gia La in Ha Tay province the flow of competitive juices is second to none when it comes to the annual Pig competition.

The story, told here by our own Willy, goes like this.

In the old days the most famous springtime festival in the province was lantern night. Actually "extinguishing the lantern night" might have been a better description of it. The idea behind that old festival was to allow the young couples of Ha Tay province to, as the saying goes, "behave freely in the dark by themselves." Though worthwhile, at least from the point of view of the young men of the province, today's Marxist-Lenninist civic leaders felt the custom wasn't doing much to help with the population control. So they decided to dress up pigs instead.

Yep, dress those babies up and make a contest out of it. A garland of flowers, a string of pearls, who knows maybe even some eyeliner and an off the shoulder frock. No holds barred. Let the creative juices flow. It all sounds intriguing, except perhaps from the pigs point of view. Since the the porker deemed most fetching has an unpleasant official duty still to perform. He must render up his innards to a village virgin who then totes them around town on a tray. A facet of the celebration that makes it hard for the porcine winner, no matter how talented, to defend his crown. (Note - The upside is the elimination of the lantern extinguishing festival has made the selection of the virgin considerably easier.)

So there you have it, the story of the duelling pigs of Ha Tay. A festival designed in the finest traditions of Marxism Lenninism of the political leaders of the province. As the organizing committee of the festival puts it "It cultivates a strong, ancient and earthy sense of collectivity and attachment among fellow villagers."

And they say communist ideology is outmoded.