As it’s almost Hogswatch, and as we’re feeling seasonally generous, today we’re giving you the chance to win one of ten copies of Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion . . . so far! If you’d like the Hogfather to bring you a copy, all you need to do is answer this question:
Name one of the Hogfather’s boars.
OK, not so much a question as a directive, but hey, there’s still loot at the end.
Send your answer in an email with the subject ‘Turtle Recall’ to firstname.lastname@example.org, including your postal details, before midnight on Monday 3rd December. You can read our terms and conditions here. Good luck!
. . . and to help you on your way, here’s what the marvellous Discworld Companion Turtle Recall has to tell us about The Hogfather:
Now, at least, the Hogfather is kind old gentleman with whiskers and boots who arrives, to the sound of hog bells, with a sack of toys on HOGSWATCHNIGHT. Children leave out a glass of wine and a pork pie for him, and they decorate their houses with an oak tree in a pot and strings of paper sausages; on Hogswatchday they wear paper hats while they eat their pork dinner.
However, this is a light modern version of a darker myth. The original Hogfather is a winter god who was associated with the pig-killing that is customary in country districts in the month before Hogswatchnight. According to legend – at least in those areas where pigs are a vital part of the household economy – the Hogfather spends the year in his secret palace of giant pig bones, emerging on Hogswatchnight to gallop from house to house on a crude sledge drawn by four tusked wild boars to deliver presents of sausages, black puddings, pork scratchings and ham to all the children who have been good. He says ‘Ho Ho Ho’ a lot. Children who have been bad get a bag full of bloody bones (it’s these little details that tell you it’s a tale for children). There is a song about him, which includes the line: ‘You’d Better Watch Out . . .’
The kinder version of the Hogfather is said to have originated in the legend of a local king who, one winter’s night, happened to be passing, or so he said, the home of three young women and heard them sobbing because they had no food to celebrate the midwinter feast. He took pity on them and threw a packet of sausages through the window – badly concussing one of them, but there’s no point in spoiling a good legend.
However, it is clear that the root of the story goes back much, much further, to those bloody and often abrupt ceremonies that were once thought necessary to give the sun a nudge in the darkest times of the year.
His sledge is drawn by his four boars: Gouger, Rooter, Tusker and Snouter. They are not your average cuddly piggies.