Emily Rice

Emily Rice is the Lifestyles Editor of The Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the Associate Editor of Prerogative Magazine.

Just one year ago, I told you about my family’s Christmas light tradition. In any other year, I would have had a few more stories to share of belly laughs with my parents while we look at Christmas lights a few times this holiday season. Of course, in this year of social distancing, I am missing this tradition.

I miss piling into the car to drive around town to look at everyone’s Christmas decorations. We usually stuck to the neighborhoods surrounding our own, driving the suburban streets, with the heat on high, pointing out our favorite decorations along the way.

One particular story I shared in my original column either has a bit more context or confusion, thanks to Cathy and Dan Cott, a Tahlequah, Oklahoma couple who built a tale around their prized Christmas pig.

For reference, this is the story of the Christmas pig I told last year, “I remember one year when I was in high school, my best friend, Heather joined us on one of these drives. We spotted a Christmas pig decoration. This was not an inflatable decoration, just a wire pig, with lights and a Santa hat on. To this day, I am not sure where pigs come into the story of Christmas or any trace of their presence in traditions surrounding the holiday. However, to us, the Christmas pig became a running joke. That entire holiday season my mother and Heather joked that they were going to go steal the decoration. I, being a rule-follower to a fault, worried myself to death that they were going to actually steal the pig. Of course, they did not, but the tale of the Christmas pig lives on in my memories, and on Heather’s front lawn now. I imagine it was difficult to explain to her husband why they needed to purchase this particular decoration to make their married home complete for the holiday.”

The Cott family, who coincidentally enough, live near my best friend, Heather in Oklahoma, wrote a backstory for their Christmas pig, Joyeuse.

A fitting beginning to this elaborate story is the pig’s name, Joyeuse. The pig is named after the great bath sponge of Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton, the Fifth Earl of Ickenham, commonly referred to as Lord Ickenham.

Dan Cott wrote a complete backstory for the pig, in the style of European folklore, that created the tradition of placing an illuminated pig dressed in a Santa suit on one’s roof, beginning in the Middle Ages and on into modern times, crossing multiple countries and continents. In addition, he included a ritual of striking the snout of the pig with a gold coin as a way of receiving good fortune and blessings.

The true story of Joyeuse the Christmas pig dates back to when the Cotts lived in Germany for three years while Dan was stationed there. According to his wife, Cathy, Dan was inspired by the family stories and traditions of Germany intertwined with his Christmas pig.

While I have yet to acquire my very own Christmas pig, I might advise anyone in Oklahoma to take a drive to visit the Cott’s Christmas pig and toss a coin at his nose for good fortune in 2021.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice

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