How ‘piggy bank’ got its name, and announcing Global Money Week


Were money to ever become entirely digital, would the piggy bank makers go out of business? 

Piggy banks: discuss. When I was little, I remember putting pennies into my grandmother’s bright orange piggy bank, and for some reason I never questioned this rather bizarre act of dropping coins into a porcine ceramic jar. Farmyard pigs, to my knowledge, are not known for their copper-based dietary requirements, so how did this peculiar tradition start?

Browsing the resources of Global Money Week 2016, I came across an explanation: “The origins of the name ‘piggy bank’ dates back to the Middle Ages when Pygg, an orange coloured clay, was used to make pots to store money. The name pygg jars evolved to be known as ‘Pig Banks’, and the rest is history!”

So really, in order to be entirely accurate, we should be calling piggy banks “Pygg Jars.” I doubt this will catch on, but this explanation is one example of how money (and our use of it) has embedded itself over time in our culture and language, absorbed from an early age.

Global Money Week, a money awareness event co-ordinated annually by charity Child and Youth Finance International, starts today. All across the world, children and teenagers will be ringing in the bell to open the day’s trading at their national stock exchange, holding virtual financial discussions with their peers overseas and coming up with designs to create the world’s largest piggy bank (current record 8.03m long, 5.58m tall!) Means of Exchange will also be taking part, tweeting and sharing the lesser known origins of some of our most common money-related words and phrases.

With every activity from ‘financial football’ to drama productions timetabled for GMW 2016, I asked CYFI’s Frances Hague to outline the key messages that they would like young people to take away:

“That anyone can take part in this global celebration and can be a change-maker in their community in promoting access to finance, financial literacy, sustainable livelihoods and economic citizenship.”

GMW, now in its fifth year, does seem to be getting the message across. This year the worldwide charity have predicted that nearly 500 organisations in over 125 countries will take part in GMW 2016, potentially involving nearly 5 million children. And beyond this week, Hague reports that participation in GMW “has been a catalyst for national initiatives introducing financial literacy into national school systems.”

Means of Exchange will be following Global Money Week 2016 as it unfolds around the world, with #TakePartSaveSmart 

Image credit: By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Piggy Bank) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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