Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I found this old pig, or sometimes refered to as a hog trough in Old Washington, Kentucky. It was on display with some old log buildings that were built in the town in the late 1700s and early 1800s. 

I knew that it was a trough to prepare pigs or hogs for winter food needed on the farm.The trough was part of the process that involved the slaughtering of the hogs or pigs. But I am not going to go into this aspect of the hog trough. I am going to talk about a tradition that somehow evolved from it. 

The tradition is a dance that is performed at weddings. Folklore stories about the dance mention that it came from various ethnic and geographic areas --Cajun, Mohawk, Appalachian, and New York.  No one place could be pinpointed in my findings. It dates back to at least the early 1800s according to folklore.

It is rather a strange tradition. It involves the older sibling of either the bride or the groom. If the older sibling, of the same gender, of either the bride or groom is not married yet -- they have to dance in the trough at the wedding to bring them good luck. 

Now you would think that such a strange tradition would die out as time marched into modern times. But no, it is still being done at weddings. Not all weddings mind you just some for unexplainable reasons. Is it an ethnic,  Appalachian, Cajun or New York tradition? 

Anyway, here is a video of a recent wedding with the older brother dancing in a pig trough. Look for yourself and realize that old folkways don't always die out. It's a fun dance to watch.

But tell me -- what does a pig trough have to do with good luck for the older sibling?


  1. LOL
    It looks like it would be a great tradition to start at any wedding!
    I found several mentions, online, that it originated with Native American Indians and that several other cultures have borrowed it.
    Wherever it began, it seems like a fun event to include on a happy day :)

  2. Jayne -- The native Americans that seem to be mentioned as a possible place of the traditions origin is the Mohawks in Upper New York state. As with all folklore it is difficult to document anything exactly without some type of documentation. But much of what is folklore turns out to be sometimes true. Wherever it started, it does seem to be a fun tradition as shown in the video. He was quite the dancer! -- barbara

  3. Vicki -- Thanks Vicki for the comment -- Sure wish I knew the true origins of this tradition. -- barbara

  4. Hi Barbara:

    I have never heard of that tradition, but my gut feeling tells me that it may be looked upon as good luck if you danced in the trough because that meant you had a pig to eat! Interesting. On a side note, I guess we can't dance in the hog trough here at OOHF since I build mine so the hogs could not stand in it while they eat...which would also exclude a human from standing in it let alone dancing in it. This is timely since I just build the trough last week!

  5. Thomas -- Now that seems like a good interpretation of this tradition. As it has its roots in the early 1800s -- having a pig to eat was probably status at the dinner table. You are always into all these farm projects that are so interesting. sure wish I cold be there to help with the apple cider making. Brings back memories of fresh cider when I was young. -- barbara

  6. barefootheart -- thanks for stopping by -- barbara

  7. I just found this post when searching for proof that other people still participate in this tradition. It's still part of the tradition in central PA where there is a strong PA German influence. My cousin is expecting to dance at his younger sisters wedding when she marries before him this coming summer. My mom also had to dance in the feed trough at her younger sisters wedding. I have no clue why its considered to make the bad luck go away but I might have to ask around about that one next time I am back in Pa.

  8. Anonymous -- Pig trough dancing is still alive and kicking. Nice to see fun traditions like this still being used. Interesting that your family is participating -- perhaps there is a local German influence that keeps it going? Like to hear first hand feedback like yours. Thanks -- barbara