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4 piglets won't end up as lechon thanks to Miami's annual holiday pig pardoning

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Every community has its holiday traditions - some old, some new. NPR's Greg Allen reports on a relatively new tradition in Miami - the pardoning of pigs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLANCA NAVIDAD")

ALEJANDRO FERNANDEZ, AMERICA FERNANDEZ, CAMILA FERNANDEZ AND VALENTINA FERNANDEZ: (Singing in Spanish) Blanca Navidad.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: With its strong Latin American influences, Miami has its own take on American culture and traditions.

ERIC CASTELLANOS: My wife and I were watching the TV, and I saw the Thanksgiving pardoning - the presidential turkey pardoning.

ALLEN: Eric Castellanos runs Latin Cafe 2000, a local restaurant chain. He's the one who decided Miami needed to put its own spin on the annual pardon, substituting a pig for the turkey.

CASTELLANOS: The normal Hispanic doesn't really eat much turkey throughout the holidays. That - our big thing is pig, is lechon. So instead of having turkey for Christmas, and for even Thanksgiving, normally what you see in the middle of the table is lechon.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIGLETS SQUEALING)

ALLEN: This year, four piglets were selected for pardons, all of them babies of previously pardoned pigs - a nice alliteration that could also be a good band name.

ASUKA MASHAV: Their father was almost killed by coyotes. He has no tail now. Yeah.

YARIV MASHAV: He lost the tail, but I think the coyote lost the fight.

A MASHAV: (Laughter).

ALLEN: Asuka Mashav and her husband, Yariv, are raising three of the four pigs being pardoned. Miami-Dade County's mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, doesn't actually have pardoning authority, but she does like pigs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA: All right. May I hold one?

Y MASHAV: You got it? They might try to jump. Yeah.

LEVINE CAVA: I have never held a pig this tiny.

ALLEN: This is just the fourth year of Miami's annual holiday pig pardoning. But for the mayor, it's a nice break from budgets, meetings and local political squabbles. Restaurant staff handed around spinach croquettes and small cups of Cuban coffee. And then the mayor read the official pardon in English and Spanish.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LEVINE CAVA: So this may sound like bad news for pork lovers, but it's a great thing if you're a pig (laughter) since your Christmas-related activities in Miami-Dade County primarily include slowly rotating over an open fire.

ALLEN: Yariv and Asuka Mashav say the pardons are nice. But unlike a lot of pigs in Miami, theirs didn't really have reason to fear the Christmas season.

Y MASHAV: Well, we are Jewish, so...

A MASHAV: And I am, too.

(LAUGHTER)

A MASHAV: So this is, like, against...

Y MASHAV: It's not kosher. They're very safe in a Jewish house.

ALLEN: These four piglets won't end up as lechon. They just have to watch out for coyotes.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEATLES SONG, "PIGGIES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.