A tiny sprite enters and bears a lighted candle into the darkened world. Representing the Church, the church pastor receives the light, and from this flame rise the lights of the alter and the lights of the church itself.
A brass fanfare announces the entrance of the Herald and the Boar's Head company. Then King Wenceslas and his page; the woodsmen with the Yule log, ridden by a tiny sprite; the shepherds searching for the Christ; and finally the three kings, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
When the entire cast has gathered at the front of the church, the haunting hymn of Christina Rossetti, "In the Bleak Midwinter," is sung by both cast and congregation. To the music of the Eucharistic hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," the cast kneels in adoration of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The church is darkened, and the Epiphany star shines over the alter.
The history of the Boar's Head reaches back into days of the Roman Empire. The Boar was the first dish served at great Roman feasts. In Norman England, the boar was the sovereign of the great forests, a menace to man and a symbol of evil. The serving of the Boar's head thus represents the triumph of good over evil, begun with the birth at Christmas and manifested as Savior of the whole creation at Epiphany. By the 12th century, the symbolism and ceremony of serving the Boar's Head at Christmastide was fully developed.
The Yule Log - lit from last year's embers, representing the warmth of the family fireside and the continuance of human life and concern - has from the earliest times symbolized the rekindling of love. The old year passes, the new is born: yet the same Love lights each.
No one knows who planned the first Boar's head procession. Queens College, Oxford, records the Festival shortly after the founding of the University in 1340. After three or four centuries at Oxford and Cambridge, to the ceremony of the Boar's Head and Yule Log were added the mince pie, the plum pudding, the shepherds, the Waits, the Wise Men or Three Kings, King Wenceslas, the Pipers, Drummers and the Beefeaters, the fabled ceremonial guards of the Tower of London. The Festival was a popular Christmas event of the great manor houses of England in the 17h century. The custom of the Boar's Head and Yule Log was carried to colonial America.
Whatever the history, we just love being in this grand old church and to experience this pageant.