Ngoc Le musician composed the famous children’s song Terracotta Piggy Bank which is well-known by most children in Vietnam. The song contains the following sentences:
Mẹ mua cho con heo đất (Mother buys me a terracotta piggy bank)
Ngày hôm nay em vui lắm (Today I am very happy)
Cầm heo trên tay em ngắm (I admire the pig on my hand)
Làm sao cho heo mau lớn (How to make the pig grow fast)
Heo không cần ăn cơm (Pid does not need to eat steamed rice)
Heo không đòi ăn cá (Pid does not ask to eat fishes)
Heo chỉ cần em bế trên tay (Pig only needs me to hold it on my hand)
Em không thèm mua kem (I do not buy ice creams)
Em không thèm mua bánh (I do not buy cakes)
Em để dành cho heo (I save money for the pig)
Em lì xì heo đất hai trăm mỗi ngày (I give my terracotta piggy bank two hundreds Dong every day)
Have you ever gifted a piggy bank? Have you ever heard about terracotta pig moneyboxes? In Vietnam, almost all Vietnamese children have received piggy banks in there life. They are taught about the value of money, how to respect and save money, share with the poor and needy. A piggy bank at the beginning of a lunar new year is one of the most expecting gifts of children in Vietnam. They save lucky money and money they earn from helping older people to do small works or simply getting good grades in schools. When they need money to buy something or help other people, the piggy bank is broken and the money is collected. Besides children, adults also use these containers to save money in the past.
Origin of Piggy bank
In the world, they have been used money containers for a long time. In the middle ages, they invented terracotta money containers which were called pygg or big jar. In the 18th century, pygg refers to containers for saving money.
Eastern Javanese people created terracotta money boxes having a shape of a pig and a slot for inserting coins. They are called terracotta piggy bank.
Names of Piggy bank – Lợn đất in Vietnam
In Vietnam, the tradition of saving money using terracotta piggy banks has existed for hundreds of years. In the past, the containers are made of terracotta so that they usually call it “lợn đất” or “heo đất” (Lợn or heo means pig, đất means terracotta). In recent, they produce and use ceramic, plastic, glass piggy banks, painted colorful and lots of patterns. However, they still call it lợn đất. Money containers in shapes of other animals or characters are also called “lợn đất” in Vietnam.
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Materials, shapes and openings of Vietnamese piggy bank
In the past, it was a simple terracotta container in a pig shape. The container has a small slot for inserting coins. In order to obtain the money, its owner must break it using a hammer.
Later, Vietnamese people have made ceramic, plastic and glass piggy banks which are painted bright colors and different nice patterns. Although ceramic Lợn đất is easily broken, it is the most favorite in our country.
Green, blue, pink, red, yellow, silver, white and golden colors are the most popular colors. Dark colors such as black, grey, brown are rarely seen. Floral, heart, coin, bow patterns and lucky words such as lộc (fortune). The pigs usually have round eyes and smiling faces. They all look chubby and cute.
Owners can insert coins or banknotes into slots on the back or at the mouth of the pigs. Traditionally, piggy banks do not have openings and the only way to get the money is breaking the pigs. In recent, they have plugs underneath the pigs so that the piggy banks can be used for many times. In the past, Vietnamese people only break the banks at the end of lunar years or when they really need money. It is the plus of piggy banks without openings. Nowadays, some parents prefer to buying those without openings to teach their children important money lessons.
Meaning of Terracotta Pig in Vietnam
Piggy banks and Lì xì (giving red envelope) tradition at Tet
On the first days of Vietnamese new years, older people gift children red envelopes with money (lì xì) as best wishes. Although the money in the envelopes is not important, lì xì is one of the most expecting things of Vietnamese children at Tet. They are also gifted new piggy banks that are used to save the money in red envelopes. After Tet, they continue saving money using mechanical banks. At the end of each year, they get money from the banks, buy new clothes, toys or gifts to other people.
Piggy banks is one of the beautiful childhood memories of Vietnamese people. When children grow up and become parents of their children, they continue gifting red envelopes and piggy banks to their children and teach them first money lessons. Saving money using piggy banks is one of the most wonderful traditions of the Vietnamese people.
When Tet is coming, decorative flowers and plants, red envelopes, foods for Tet, fruits for arranging Five-fruit trays and piggy banks are sold popularly on the streets, at local markets and supermarkets.
Symbol of the abundance of wealth, health and happiness
In Vietnam, pig is not a pet but one of the top farmed animals. Pig sector plays an important part in Vietnam. A large number of families in the countryside earn their living by farming pigs.
Many Vietnamese traditional foods are made from pork. Roasted pork is a gift on engagement ceremony and at wedding and other celebrations in Vietnam. Pork is the main ingredients for Tet foods including Square and cylindrical sticky rice cakes, Vietnamese pork roll, Vietnamese head cheese, Fermented pork roll, Braised pork and egg in caramel, Frozen pork.
In the past, they wish to have enough rice and pork at Tet. Piggy banks are not only for saving money but also arranging in houses. It represents the abundance of foods and money. In addition, it also symbolizes good health, happiness and luckiness thanks to the plump body, smiling face and round eyes.
Representing for Vietnamese children
Cute piggy banks remind of Vietnamese children who are need the protect and care of adults. When there are not many toys for children, piggy banks are the most favorite and closest friends of Vietnamese people.
Teaching young people to save and manage money better
Piggy banks are perhaps the first money lessons Vietnamese people are taught. The lessons are as follows:
Children do their best to study, please their parents, do housework in the whole year in order to be gifted at Tet festival with piggy banks and red envelopes.
Children spend money wisely.
Children save money, put them into piggy banks and use the collected money to buy dreaming toys, clothes or gifts to their grandparents and parents.
Children use the money to help poor people. For example, they can use the money to buy new clothes for their poor friends or bring foods to disabled people.
Do not waste money on unnecessary things.
Sharing with less lucky people
In Vietnam, there are many programs in which they save money using piggy banks in order to help poor people, the disabled, the elderly. Piggy bank is the symbol of human kindness in Vietnam.
Saving money in piggy banks in order to use money wisely
Not only children but also adult save money in piggy banks which remind them to use money wisely. A family can save money in Lợn đất to buy a new television. Newlyweds save money to buy a new home appliance. A housewife keeps sparse money in a ceramic pig, then use the collected money to buy new clothes for her husband and children. Small money can not be saved at banks but in mechanical banks such as traditional piggy banks.
Traditional villages making piggy banks
Bat Trang Pottery Village
Located in Gia Lam District, Hanoi Capital and about 20 km from the capital center, Bat Trang is one of the most famous pottery villages in Vietnam thanks to traditional techniques, experienced pottery makers and age-old tradition. It is known as the over 700-year-old pottery village. Piggy banks made in Bat Trang have soft curves, shining surfaces and delicate strokes. Steps of the process of making ceramic piggy banks include processing soil into clay, molding, burning, painting, decorating.
Lai Thieu Pottery Village
In South Vietnam, Lai Thieu Village in Binh Duong Province specializes in making pottery piggy banks that are sold in South Vietnam and exported to Southeastern Asian countries. The over 50-year-old piggy bank making village contributes to preserving a Vietnamese beautiful tradition. At Tet festival, the village is busier, pottery makers do their best to complete orders, shippers drive trucks which are full of piggy banks to different regions in the country.
It takes many steps to finish a piggy bank, painters should be patient, talented and experienced. The three-generation Quang Anh Piggy Bank Factory was managed by Mrs. Dang Thi Vang. According to Mrs. Vang, pottery piggy bank is a handmade product so that pottery makers and painters play important roles. It takes at least one month to train a painter. Each piggy bank is a unique product. Each child receives a unique gift from their parents and grandparents.