Amanda Coetzee
2 minute read
31 Oct 2019
12:34 pm

Why money boxes are shaped like pigs

Amanda Coetzee

Why do people around the world put loose change into small pink porcelain pigs?

Picture: Southlands Sun

Before the existence of banking institutions as we know them, in about the 15th century, people commonly kept their savings at home in clay kitchen jars.

In those days many kitchen utensils in ordinary homesteads were made of a clay called pygg. When these people had a coin or two to spare, they would drop them into a clay jar which was called a pygg pot.

The Old English word for the farm pig was “picga” with the Middle English word evolving into “pigge” possibly because the farm animals rolled around in the pygg clay mud which abounded.

Over the next two to three hundred years, as the English language evolved, the clay (pygg) and the animal (pigge) came to be pronounced the same, and people forgot that pygg once referred to their earthenware pots, jars, cups and dishes.

In the 19th century, English potters started fashioning pygg banks (money boxes) in the shape of pigs. This clever visual pun appealed to customers and delighted children who were encouraged to save money in their piggy banks.

Early models only had a slot in the top for depositing coins and no hole in the bottom, so the pig had to be smashed to get money out. This served to discourage children from accessing the money they had saved until the piggy bank was full.

Piggy banks have become an enduring icon for financial literacy. It is an excellent tool to teach children about the importance of saving money.

In some European countries, notably the Netherlands and German-speaking countries, it is customary to give piggy banks as gifts as pigs are associated with luck and good fortune. At New Years, small marzipan pigs are given to friends and family as “Lucky Pigs”.

And according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2019 is the Year of the Pig, so there’s a gift idea for the coming Festive Season.

Read the original article on Southlands Sun.

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