Pig Feast Tradition in Madeira Island

Pig Feast Tradition in Madeira Island

Christmas traditions in Madeira and Porto Santo Islands are plentiful but perhaps one of the oldest is the traditional pig slaughter.

According to some studies this tradition was brought to these islands by the first settlers from the north of Portugal.

The pig slaughter usually takes place before Christmas, after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (8th December). In the past, Christmas season was the only time of the year when people could afford to eat larger amounts of meat.

It's a celebration day in which neighbors, friends and family members gather to eat, drink, sing and dance, reinforcing social and family ties.

Traditionally, the pig is slaughtered with a very sharp knife by the most experienced men of the group and the blood is squeezed out.

Once the animal has been slaughtered, the meat of the animal is divided. Most parts of the animal are used and some of the meat is salted. Before refrigerators were common meat was salted. This way the meat was preserved during several months.

The home breeding and slaughtering of pigs has always played an important role in family economy of rural areas of Madeira and Porto Santo Islands.

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