In the United States there is a FLYING PIG MARATHON that has been run in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 1997. In the 1800’s Cincinnati had the nickname “Porkopolis” because of the meat packing industry and all the stockyards there. During this time, pigs could be seen running through the downtown Cincinnati streets to the stockyards. In the 1980’s, sculptures of various animals started popping up in cities across the United States. Tampa, Florida, has turtles; Whitefish, Montana, has moose; Beaufort, South Carolina, has shrimp; Smithfield, Virginia, has pigs; and Cincinnati, Ohio, has FLYING pigs. These sculptures were the inspiration for the name of the marathon.

Where did the saying “when pigs fly” come from and what does it mean exactly?  It is not known for sure where or when the saying originated. Many give credit to Germany and others to Scotland. Why pigs? Well, think about it. Take a minute and envision a pig. Pigs instinctively root in the earth, a habit that cannot be broken. This is a sure indication pigs belong on the ground not in the air. Now, put a pair of wings on the pig. Will those wings be able to get a bulky, 600-pound pig in the air? Even if the wings are enormous, they will not keep a pig in the air flying over roof tops. It is definitely an impossibility. Today, “when pigs fly” is a saying used mainly in the United States. It is a humorous way to say something is never going to happen (it is impossible). In the United Kingdom the saying is “when pigs might fly” or “when pigs may fly.” Whichever phrase is used, it means the same thing; it’s an exaggerated comparison suggesting something is completely impossible. In Romania they say, “when the pig shall fly” and in Finland the expression “when cows fly” is used. The most common expression in French to say something is physically impossible is “when hens will have teeth.”

The saying, “when pigs fly” appears in books and movies. Lots of children’s books have the phrase as their title. There is a “when pigs fly” board game and a flying pig game app. “When Pigs Fly” is even the title of a song. Flying pigs decorate various jewelry pieces such as a necklace, ring, brooch, and bracelet. People love to collect flying pigs and they can be found in all sizes, colors, and materials. Flying pig signs decorate the walls of houses, offices, eateries, and shops. They can be seen in yards, on coworker’s desks, in every room of the house, in restaurants, and on bumper stickers. Flying pigs decorate baby clothes. Men can buy novelty neckties with winged pigs on them. Women can dress in various styles of clothing decorated with flying pigs. Flying pig fabric can be purchased so anything that can be made out of fabric can be made with flying pigs on it (cushions, quilts, stuffed animals).

Look around and you might see a flying pigs!

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