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Monday, December 10, 2007

Oh My! What A Boar!

On Sunday we picked up my Mother and my buddy *T* and headed into Dayton. Our destination was Grace UMC, a beautiful, old, Tudor style church. This is the church where my parents married and where, in 1978, Bill and I married. I love it's original Rookwood tile floors and it's massive, hand cut walnut beams. We were there to see, as we do every year, the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival.

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.

27 comments:

PEA said...

Hello dear Sue:-) I'm hanging my head in shame at how many of your posts I've missed lately...just know that I've now caught up on all your news!! Being so busy with Christmas preparations, I'm afraid my blogging visit time has suffered! I've so enjoyed seeing all your beautiful photos, you do live near some fabulous places!! It's no wonder you love going to this church, it's fabulous inside! The play also sounded like it was terrific. Enjoyed reading the story about the boar also! As for a bloggers' meeting, make it Niagara Falls and I'm there! lol xoxo

Southern Heart said...

What a beautiful church, and such a lovely ceremony! I'm glad that you took us with you! :)

xo, Andrea

Cottage Magpie said...

What a neat story and so pretty! And that tree is just lovely, as well.
~Angela :-)

Valerie said...

what an amazing church. your pictures SO communicate the peace you must feel walking in that place.

wow.

Terri said...

what a wonderful tradition! What did Grace think, or has she seen it before as well?
Terri

P.S. I love the doll at the top of your blog..Is she yours?

Cottage Contessa said...

What an absolutely stunningly gorgeous church! Thanks for sharing, it's so beautiful!
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

Sandi McBride said...

Now I just love that church...I mean really, how wonderful. And a history lesson, girl you are one of my favorites for a reason!

Sugar Bear said...

I had the honor and pleasure of attending one of these festivals here in CT. It was so beautiful and they had real animals in the church! It really is such an enjoyable and memorable event. I also want to say God Bless you and your family and all that you are doing for the troops. Have you heard of Soldiers Angels? Jeff and I just adopted a soldier - it is a great program. You can check out my blog for more info.
Big hugs,
Karla

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Hi Sue,
Oh, that is just a beautiful church and the festival and ceremony sound wonderful.
Penny

PAT said...

Oh Sue...I love this post! Absolutely gorgeous images and your story is amazing. Loved it all and love that photo of Bill and Grace!

Pat

Sheila said...

Hi Remember me..!
Sorry it's been so long since I visited. Busy, busy, busy..!
This church is beautiful, and the service sounds lovely. I've never heard of this before. I am a huge fan of Chrisina Rosetti, and In the Bleak Midwinter is my favourite Christmas carol. I know I would havve loved this.
Thank you for sharing it with us,
big hugs
xo

Terri and Bob said...

I loved reading about this ceremony... if I missed this I am sorry, but this seems so ENGLISH to me!

Gretchen said...

Love the pageantry and the beautiful church, Susie Q. Just gorgeous. Your photos are marvelous, just marvelous. Thanks for the dose of Christmas cheer.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Susie, Thanks for taking us with you to this beautiful church and ceremony. How much I would have missed this year without all my blogging friends. It's truly amazing. Hugs, Lynn

smilnsigh said...

Ohhh that must be fantastic!!!!!

Mari-Nanci

Janet said...

That celebration sounds so festive and that church is so beautiful. Just the way a church should look in my estimation. You may have noticed that I have opinions about just about everything, including churches LOL.
Janet

Dawn Bibbs said...

How BEAUTIFUL!!! Nothing more that I can say...simply BEAUTIFUL!!!

Mary said...

Dear Sue,
What a beautiful old church! That sounds like such a wonderful pageant -- thanks for sharing it with us!
xoxo,
Mary

Brenda said...

Thanks for the history and the beauty in the post. The windows are awsome.

Susie said...

Hi Susie Q,
I so enjoyed seeing your photos of this beautiful church. The stained glass is just gorgeous.
Your posts never fail to brighten my day!
xo

Strawberry Lane said...

Thank you for the beautiful photos of the church windows and the interior. Those special Christmas traditions are what give us our cherished memories.

Thank you for sharing the evening.

BittersweetPunkin said...

Oh how pretty!! Thanks for the story too...your photos are great..as usual!
Blessings,
Robin

NAME: CIELO said...

What a beautiful and friendly looking church...

Enjoy the Season

Mockingbird Hill said...

Not only a family tradition, but what wonderful memories you have! Beautiful church...and how special that you and Bill were able to follow in your parents footsteps. Just lovely, Sue!

Cassie

JANET said...

What a beautiful church and wonderful pageant! I have not heard of that type festival before.

Rosemary said...

What a great pagent!! Wish I could have been there. It's a beautiful church.
Glad you had a great time!
Rosemary

Cheryl Wray said...

What a BEAUTIFUL tradition!!!! And what a gorgeous church!!! I can just imagine a wedding being held there; it would be beautiful!

We go to a UM church and I just love the tradition of it all. The hanging of the greens and all of our banners and the Christmon tree just make it so special and holy.

Have never heard of the Boar's Head tradition. So very cool!!