Language What does the expression "every pig gets its Saint Martin" mean?

"Every pig gets its San Martín" or "Every pig gets its San Martín" is a classic among the classics of Spanish proverbs

Language What does the expression "every pig gets its Saint Martin" mean?

"Every pig gets its San Martín" or "Every pig gets its San Martín" is a classic among the classics of Spanish proverbs. It is used as a sentence to warn that anyone who has bad behavior or who has committed a mean or incorrect action will sooner or later receive what they deserve. It's more; For each person, whether guilty or not, the time comes to settle accounts.

The expression is an idiom, that is, a phrase typical of a language whose meaning is not deduced from the words that form it. In this case, we know that the phrase talks about pigs and a saint, but we know its meaning even without knowing what the direct relationship is between both concepts.

The saying has its origin in the traditional slaughter of the pig, an event marked in red on the calendar of many towns and which took place around November 11, the date on which the Church celebrates the festival of San Martín de Tous.

The date of San Martín to sacrifice the pigs, after having fattened them during their breeding, was chosen since the first days of November are usually the time of year in which the cold begins to appear, that is, the moment in which that the best conditions were available to cure and preserve meats and sausages.

The slaughter was quite a party to which family and friends joined, since the process required the help of many hands. According to the Navarra Butchers' Guild, the slaughter began to be planned with the waning moon. When the time came, the pig was killed; his skin was burned to remove the hairs; the blood was collected to make blood sausages; The meat was cut to separate hams, loins, ribs, sirloins and other noble parts; The remains were chosen to prepare chorizos and salchichons; The brains were taken out to be coated (in some places) and the tongue... With so much product that comes from this animal, it was normal that the famous phrase arose "from the pig, (it is used) even to its feet."

For the day of the slaughter to go well, it was necessary to choose a pleasant day to carry out the task. And around mid-November the so-called San Martín summer takes place, a supposed meteorological parenthesis of two or three days of good weather (there is also the San Miguel summer in September) before the thermometers begin to drop drastically.

The slaughter was a very important event in rural areas, since it offered food during the winter months. Today, although it is preserved as a tradition and tourist attraction in some locations, the refrigerator has solved the issue of seasonality. In fact, from the Cervantes Institute they point out that "currently, the form is being imposed. Everyone gets their own San Martín, since, since a significant number of speakers are unaware of the cultural reference of this saying (the massacre), they consider it a I insult the shape with pork or pork".

Unlike other popular phrases such as "the fifth pine" or "end like the rosary of dawn", there is no exact origin of the expression "Every pig gets its Saint Martin." The phrase emerged naturally several centuries ago.

In Correas' Vocabulary of proverbial phrases and proverbial phrases (1627) the expression already appears in the form "Every pig has its own Saint Martin." Before that work, a reference also appears in Don Quixote when, in chapter 62 of the second part (1615), the ingenious gentleman says, alluding to Avellaneda's Don Quixote: "I already know about this book," said Don Quixote, "and In truth and in my conscience I thought that he was already burned and ruined, for being impertinent; but his San Martín will reach him like every pig."

Another genius of the Golden Age, Francisco de Quevedo, also captured the locution in La vida del Buscón (1626):

-Long live God! -said the bracket-, that I paid Juanazo in Murcia more than enough, because the donkey was with a duck walk and the scoundrel laid them on me so that nothing but welts stood up. And the swineherd, feeling embarrassed, said: - My back is with Virgo. "Every pig has its own Saint Martin," said the plaintiff. "I can praise myself for that," said my good uncle, "among those who handle the whip, that to the one entrusted to me I do what I must. Today they gave me sixty and they carried some whippings from a friend, with a simple penca.

That so many illustrious authors of the 17th century used the same phrase can only mean that it was established in popular speech more than 400 years ago.