We attended the annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival and Wassail Bowl at Grace United Methodist Church in Dayton. It's such a fun event...so meaningful, with lovely music and talented & enthusiastic participants! We go every year and never fail to enjoy ourselves.
It is a joy just to BE in this most beautiful church. My parents were married here in 1958, Bill and I followed suit in 1978! Our family loves to attend this annual holiday treat, as does my friend Terri, who usually goes with us.
The Boar's Head is probably the oldest continuing festival of the Christmas season. This pageant is rooted in ancient times when the boar was sovereign of the forest. A ferocious beast and menace to humans it was hunted as a public enemy. At Roman feasts, boar was the first dish served. Like our Thanksgiving turkey, roasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets. As Christian beliefs overtook pagan customs in Europe, the presentation of a boar's head at Christmas came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over sin.
The Festival we know today originated at Queen's College, Oxford, England in 1340. Legend has it that a scholar was studying a book of Aristotle while walking through the forest on his way to Christmas Mass. Suddenly, he was confronted by an angry wild boar. Having no other weapon, the resourceful Oxonian rammed his metal-bound philosophy book down the throat of the charging animal, whereupon the brute choked to death. That night the boar's head, finely dressed and garnished, was borne in procession to the dining room, accompanied by carolers singing "in honor of the King of bliss."
By 1607, an expansive ceremony was in use at St. John's College, Cambridge, England. There, the boar's head was accompanied by "mustard for the eating" and decorated with flags and sprigs of evergreen, bay rosemary and holly. It was carried in state to the strains of the Boar's Head carol, still sung in the Christ Church ceremony.
By then the traditional Boar's Head Festival had grown to include lords, ladies, knights, historical characters, cooks, hunters, and pages. Eventually, shepherds and wise men were added to tell the story of the Nativity. The whole was embellished with additional carols, customs and accoutrements. Mince pie and plum pudding good King Wenceslas and his pages, a yule log lighted from the last year's ember...all found a place and a symbolic meaning in the procession. This was the ceremony brought to colonial America by the Bouton family, persecuted French Huguenots who had learned of the custom during a period of exile in England. The Boutons settled in Troy, New York, and were closely connected with the Episcopal church and its schools, including Hoosac School where their descendant became Rector in 1888. He established the festival which had meant so much to his family as an annual Christmas observance. In 1926, the New York Evening Post described the Bask Boar's Head as a "complex and rich tapestry" of "exquisite melodies."
.I hope your week is going well! There is always so much to do at this special time of year...all of us at Rabbit Run have been *hopping* like crazy! I have had such a sweet time of late and have a few more posts planned to share it all with you.
But for now I must run...as a School Room Mom, I have lots to do to prepare for the big party on Friday!
Can you believe it is already December 16th? My! Where has this month gone?
I know all of you are busy too...just take time to relax a bit, do something fun and smile. This lovely season is so glorious and passes by in the wink of an eye!
Love and Hugs,