The story dates back to the 19th century when Denmark and Prussia couldn’t agree on where to draw their border. At that time both countries refused to concede any ground and wanted to control the southern Jutland Peninsula, which today is part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Read the fascinating story of the Danish protest pigs.
In 1848, the countries fought, with Denmark winning claim to the land. More than a decade later, the land was up for grabs again as the Second Schleswig War erupted, this time with Prussia declaring victory.
In the 1860s, Prussian authorities moved in and over the next couple of years instituted a multitude of brand-new laws reducing anything from another location Danish. The Danes, especially the farmers, were not very happy. They lived under the rule of the Prussians, who prohibited all use of the Danish flag. They could not raise their flag and were forced to bow down to the Prussian authorities.
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Through a crafty program of crossbreeding, Danish farmers tried to create a new breed of pig that faintly resembled their beloved home’s flag. It wasn’t terribly difficult, they decided to use biology as their secret weapon. The banner of Denmark is relatively simple—a flat red background covered by a long, white Nordic cross — so all the pig needed was a coat of red fur and one or two prominent white belts. They named it Protestschwein, the Danish Protest Pig.
“The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it,” said Lord Palmerston.
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The Danish Protest pig quickly became a snorting symbol of Danish cultural independence. Today, there are fewer than 60 flag-striped breeding animals still alive, many residing in zoos, but in the 20th century, the red swine became recognized in 1954 as a “true breed” called the Husum Red Pied.
The breed is best known for their Denmark-like colors. They are red in color, with a white vertical belt and a white horizontal belt, also known as Danish Flag Pig. At full maturity, males tend to weigh approximately 350kgs, with females rising to 300kgs. The breed grows up to an average height of 92cms.
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Historians believe the reddish breed comes from the British Tamworth pig, but nowadays the Danish Protest Pig is actually a registered rare breed.
However, this wasn’t the only form of passive aggressive protest to occur on the Jutland Peninsula in the 19th century. The occupying Germans also instituted laws that prevented Danish organizations from serving alcohol, striking a major blow to local community halls that functioned as key political gathering spots. Suddenly, these Danish halls needed a non-alcoholic way to bring people in. Their solution? The sønderjysk kaffebord, or coffee table — what is essentially a table covered in dozens of assorted “rebel cakes.”
The Fascinating Story of the Danish Protest Pigs, written by Tor Kjolberg