Friday, April 27, 2018

X is for Xtreme Pig Herding (WTF Hungary - Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales)

Welcome to this year's A to Z Challenge titled WTF Hungary - Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales! You can find all other participating blogs on the A to Z Challenge main blog.

All the 30 folktales that I translated for Dancing on Blades are stories that I love, and tell a lot. But even among them, The Little Swineherd is one of my ever favorites. When I tour abroad, I tell it often, and it works like a charm with all kinds of audiences.

In this story, three brothers set out, one after another, to make their way in the world. The first two fail, because they fail to offer kindness to the animals (an ant and a lizard) they encounter, but the third one succeeds because of his kind heart. This youngest boy climbs a sky-high tree on the king's order, to guard the king's vineyard from invisible enemies (yes, the vineyard is on top of the tree). After completing this task, he is re-hired as a swineherd, to watch over the king's pigs for the 3 days of the harvest.

On the first day, the pigs run out to the field and burrow into the ground. The swineherd gets them back with the help of the ants.

On the second day, the pigs jump into the river and sink. The boy gets them back with the lizard's help.

On the third day, the pigs fly up into the sky like balloons. A friendly falcon helps herd them back home.

On the last day, the pigs turn out to be the king's enchanted daughters.

I have to admit, that last day was my own addition to the tale. Many of the texts collected from the original storyteller were fragmented, with pieces missing. The first two boys got animals, but the last one didn't. The first two days had difficulties, the last one didn't. We had the elements of earth and water, but no air. Based on many other tales of the same type, I decided that there had to be a third piece missing to round out the story. So this is the way I tell it, and it works. Kids especially love the flying pigs.

People who read the book and want to tell the story can make up their own mind about it. That is the beauty of storytelling.


  1. And why not? Everyone loves a flying pig, and as we have seen this month, pretty much anything goes in Hungarian folktales!

  2. I like your addition. It ties the story together.

    X - 3am by Busted

  3. It does work and it fits well with other tales you have shared in the wtf-ness. ;)

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    My A to Z’s of Dining with IC
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  4. I love your telling, and especially your attention to the balance that makes the story flow. Another lovely tale!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons