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Why is it a Piggy Bank? Why not a Dog, Chicken Or Dinosaur Bank?

As a parent when we think about teaching our kids to start collecting coins and eventually save money, we get them a piggy bank. With modern times, we can find piggy banks shaped in different cartoons and even characters from animated movies. But they are all still called piggy banks. Ever wondered why they are known only from the animal pig and not any other animal that a child may actually be fond of?

The answer can be found somewhere in the Middle Ages. In those times, the real banks were not into existence. People used to save their money at home. Not under the mattress, or a cupboard which also didn’t exist but in kitchenware. During those times, metal was not something that was used to make utensils and was a very expensive commodity. Pots and pans were made of earthenware. A special yet affordable orange-colored clay called “pygg” was used for it. People who were well off used to get huge custom made jars of pygg only to save money called pygg pots.

Earthenware pots and pans used in yesteryears
Image courtesy Google

Early English was very different than it is today. Pygg pots were earlier pronounced as pug pots. With the pronunciation of many alphabets evolving, for example the pronunciation of letter ‘y’ changed from sound ‘u’ to sound ‘i’. The pygg pots and the farm animal pig which actually lies around in pygg and mud sounded the same. Europeans completely forgot that the word “pygg” actually meant clay used to make earthenware in yesteryears. The word bank had also come into existence by then and when potters received requests to make pygg pots or pygg banks, they started shaping them into animal pigs. This accidental change was accepted widely by customers. It emerged so much in those years that little piggy banks were being fashioned for kids as well which delighted them.

Piggy bank made out of clay
Image courtesy Google

Pigs were also tied with good fortune. To possess a herd of pigs was considered a sign of wealth and prosperity in the Middle Ages. Successful breeding was possible with them with minimal investment and the owners would never go hungry. Many farmers survived the winter through just one pig that they owned. That is how pig also became a symbol of good luck in German tradition. Marzipan pigs are gifted during Christmas and New Year to bring good luck. In some Asian countries too, pig is considered to bring good luck and fortune.

Marzipan pigs gifted for good luck
Image courtesy Google

Such a sublime history of how piggy banks came into existence and from there it spread all over the world. It has continued till date and we and many more of our generations to come are going to teach our young kids to start saving in piggy banks. Now that you know about it, do not forget to share this piece of interesting history with your kids, maybe even as a bedtime story!

32 thoughts on “Why is it a Piggy Bank? Why not a Dog, Chicken Or Dinosaur Bank?

  1. This was something interesting to know. Never actually thought that this too had a history. Now I am going to show off what I’ve learnt and share its history whenever I can with others.
    A very interesting topic I must say.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Woowww. This is a very interesting blog. I still love to keep money in my piggy bank since childhood 🤩 and you explained it very nicely 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this sounds really amazing. I never thought that way. Got to learn so many things. Really would love to share this with others and ask them this question.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, that’s so amazing. I am sure not many people know of this. I learnt about the history of piggy banks from this article 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wow..never knew and frankly speaking never thought about why it is called a piggy band. Thanks for educating me through your post. Something new to share with my kids

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow this is really new info to me. I did not know the history behind why piggy bank is given that name. will share this info with my girls. really found this interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Piggy Banks are an inseparable part of our childhood. But never wondered how they got the name. It is fascinating to read about this, very interesting information.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. what a revelation this is. I have been curious about this name all of my life and I can bet my parents too do not know the real reason behind this name, they conveniently passed on the name to us and I would have done it too thankfully now I can tell my kids nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Seema, very interesting to know the history of the piggy bank and you are so right sometimes meaning itself changes when it is passed on from one person to another and here history is created out of the confusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We all must have had so many piggy banks and now our kids have them but I never thought as to why it’s a piggy bank and not something else. Your post is such a brilliant revelation of the history of piggy bank

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, this is a new information to me. Interesting, how with time, every concept seemed to have evolved. Also, I didn’t know that pigs had this significance in various cultures. Thanks for sharing such a well researched topic with us. I shall now share it with my son too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is something new I read today. One never really things the reason behind why somethings are called the way they are. But it was interesting yo know this and I am now going to pass this information to people when we talk about piggy banks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s a really interesting article. Thanks for the insight. Some things confuse us/intrigue us and it’s great to clarify them. For eg why does a cat have nine lives. Maybe you can write about this next.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In many countries other than India, especially China, South Korea and Hawaii, pigs are symbolic of good fortune and luck. I honestly didn’t know about the origin of Piggy Bank, up until I read your post that is!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Story behind Piggy bank name was really unknown to me . Thanks for the information behind piggy bank. I used to save money in piggy bank and till now this habit is keep continuing.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Such an interesting story about a Piggy bank. Who would have thought that it all meant just clay! Sometimes we use words without actually knowing the stories behind them. Thanks for this article, I learned something new today.

    Liked by 1 person

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