“Heh. COCK of Barcelos.”
~Our Giggling Copy Editor
Last week, we wrote an article that basically centered on the premise of “a lot of countries have silly or unusual national animals, and a bunch of these national animals don’t even exist, let’s make fun of them.” We held ourselves to one penis joke (heh, phrasing) and we can assure you we will not be so restrained this time around. Here are more of…
The Weirdest Official National Animals in the World: Mythical Creatures Edition (Part 2)
Before we get underway, we want to make one clarification. Not appearing on this list, though their national animal does qualify, is China. China has three national animals—their national bird, which is the red-crowned crane, and two national animals. One is the giant panda, which makes sense, and the other is the Chinese dragon, which is a mythical animal and should be on this list, especially since we included Wales’ red dragon in the last article, but since Chinese dragons first started showing up around 4500 B.C. we’ll say it gets grandfathered out of “us being able to make fun of it” territory. Like a lot of other mythical phenomenon that has existed in our imaginations throughout all of human history, such as ghosts, or the concept of home ownership for people living in San Francisco.
Anyway, all of these animals represent the majesty of other countries. By…not existing, apparently?
Considering the financial state of Greece, having a national animal as a bird that you set on fire to bring it back to life kind of seems like a metaphor that’s almost a bit too on the nose. Now their main national animal is a dolphin, but since as far as we can remember Greece has never lost a war to Japan, there’s really no easy jokes to make there. But a phoenix, apart from being a thing that’s not real that about 8% of you reading this still thinks was a thing that first appeared in either X-Men or Harry Potter, is both a cool (phoenixes are cool) and hilarious thing (phoenixes are the name of scammy for-profit universities. Oh also they set themselves on fire on purpose).
As a general rule, you want your national animal to say something about how you see yourself as a nation. America is represented by the bald eagle, because we are majestic and noble, and also the bison, because bison are fat (we’ve only had that as a national animal for like three years, so we’re still working on finding a better metaphor there). Either way, Greece isn’t really doing themselves a lot of favors. Dolphins make kind of sense, because Greece has a lot of islands and coasts, and dolphins are smart and also have perform a lot of sexually questionable acts that don’t get covered in the media as much as they frankly should.
But as for the Phoenix, again, yes, you can be an optimist and say Greece is saying they “rise from the ashes” and thus “persevere when times are tough” but we can’t get past the “well they had to set themselves on fire first” part of that. Maybe that’s us. Anyway, next monster/creature.
The Turul is basically a souped-up falcon, which is pretty disappointing. It’s not only disappointing, it’s legitimately depressing. This isn’t the only this is going to happen in this article, but let’s just say that there are multiple countries who were like, “Okay, for our national animal…we’re going to make up one! That’s right! We can do that! We can create whatever amazing and majestic beast we can will into existence!” And instead of like, a horse with swords for legs, or Chris Hemsworth, Hungary was like, “Okay so it’s a big falcon. Or maybe a hawk. Either way, it’s pretty big. Not like, giant. It’s just a big bird. And not even that big! Oh it’s a symbol of providence or whatever, but look, it’s just a bird.
By the way, we’re not here to make rash judgments about “depressing countries who have been conditioned to dull their imaginations for life is bleak and short” but literally every single time where someone made up a mythological creature for their national animal and went with “just like, a bird, we guess” it’s in Eastern Europe, or at the very least on the Eastern side of Central Europe. Every fucking time. We’ll let you make your own conclusions there.
Garuda is a bird seen in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythologies—in Hinduism, Vishnu flies on him, like his own personal Yoshii. That’s actually pretty cool, even though they managed to depict it in a way that looks like…just every eagle you see on every seal. Including the tongue sticking out. Seriously why do all of these fuckers have their tongues sticking out? We could research this, but we know one of you will leave a comment about it that starts with “Actually” and we’d never want to rob you of that satisfaction. Anyway, as this one is pretty steeped in religion, we’re going to just leave it be for now before we say something that puts us on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s watch lists.
North Korea: Chollima
We came in expecting batshit crazy from our friends in North Korea, but like, a flying horse that mortals can’t ride? That’s, it’s fine, we guess.We’re honestly a bit let down by that. If anyone was going to go full insanity, it would be North Korea, right? The name itself translates to “thousand-mile horse” which, not to be racist, sounds less like a legendary creature and more like the name of a dish at a Chinese restaurant with an iffy menu translator. Though we guess one of the reasons why it’s not crazy is that North Korea didn’t come up with this guy. It originated in the 3rd century BC in China, and North Korea decided to adopt it as a symbol of heroism thousands of years later.
Which, sure, makes more sense. Because, yeah, if you actually asked the citizens of North Korean tasked to invent a fabled creature be their national animal, they might come up with something no one there has ever seen before, like an eagle that’s never had reason to worry about a famine, or an ox that can say negative things about the state on television.
Portugal: The Cock of Barcelos
Hahahaha, wait really? Now admittedly, we’re guessing that you could translate this as the “rooster” of Barcelos, but why would you when given the option of a juvenile dick joke? Anyway, this is a very common emblem of Portugal, and comes from an old legend that, we guess, really exemplifies the spirit of the Portuguese people. That is, if the spirit of the Portuguese people is super paranoid about being falsely accused of crimes.
Anyway, the legend of the Rooster Cock of Barcelos goes thusly—…wait, let’s start that again. Who the fuck says “thusly”? Anyway, one day, someone stole silver form a guy in Barcelos. A man from a neighboring town showed up one day, and the villagers very reasonably said, “New Person? THIEF! CRIMINAL! Lock him up! Build a wall!” Meanwhile the guy insists he’s innocent, gets convicted to hang (yeesh, strict), but begs to plead his case to the judge. The judge happened to be having a dinner party at the time, which the guy crashes. To prove his case he says, “It is as certain that I am innocent as it is certain that this rooster will crow when they hang me” which, frankly, is not the best defense strategy. “I know what will prove me innocent! If something impossible happens when I die!” is not exactly “if the glove don’t fit you must acquit.”
So the judge doesn’t eat the rooster, and they hang him, and sure enough the roasted cock (hahah sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves, especially when Wikipedia listed it that way) gets up and crows. Now, you’d think the story ends dark, but it doesn’t. Turns out the not on the innocent man’s noose was fucked up, so he survived, and was immediately freed. Then, we guess, the guy came back later to carve the Calvary to the Lord of the Rooster, in praise of the Virgin Mary and Saint James, which is a real 17th century monument that’s in Barcelos.
Oh, and for those out there who are curious. Yes, the national animal of Portugal is also the logo for Nando’s.
Russia: Double-Headed Eagle
Giving an eagle two heads seems like a bad idea, Russia. Like, this is better than giving a lion a second tail, but having two different brains trying to fly in two different directions doesn’t seem likely to work out too well for any of the parties involved. But besides that, Eagles aren’t even one of the scarier or more imposing things to give two heads. Like literally anything with teeth instead of a beak is a more terrifying option. For example, their other national animal? It’s a bear. That’s much scarier! Holy shit, a two-headed bear! Chuck Norris just shat his pants at the thought!
Anyway, as we said previously, it’s just sort of depressing when someone decides to make a mythological animal and change like, one thing, instead of inventing something badass instead. Like, maybe a bird that has mouths instead of feet? That’s freaky! Do that next time, Russia!
Serbia: White Eagle
But as “meh” as we think Russia’s animal is, this is just plain depressing. Serbia was told, basically, to make up any animal for their coat of arms, and they were like, “Anything? Okay! How about Russia’s thing, but like, white.” That’s so sad we can feel it in our stomachs. Like, we get that the lazy stereotype for Serbia is “kind of depressing” but…well, their national emblem isn’t doing anything to change our minds on that. Yeesh. Well, way to end this on a low note, we guess.
Though it’s not a low note! Or rather, it totally is, but it’s not ending! That’s right we have one more article about weird national animals left in the chamber! Only, for our next article, the animals are…real! But embarrassing! See you then!