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BoarsHead Festival

Performed  December 18

Festival event

Pre-performance Music and other bonus video

Organ and Brass Music video


This pageant is rooted in ancient times when the wild boar was king of the forest A ferocious beast and menace to humans, it was hunted as a public enemy. At Roman feasts, it was the first dish served. Like our Thanksgiving turkey, toasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets. As Christianity overtook pagan customs in Europe, the presentation of a boar's head at Christmastime came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over evil.


Tonight's Festival originated at Queen's College in Oxford, England in 1340 A.D. 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 metalbound philosophy book down the throat of the charging animal, whereupon the brute choked to death. That night the boor's head, finely dressed and garnished, was carried in procession to the dining room, accompanied by carolers singing "in honor of the King of bliss."


In time the event grew to include other songs as well as the Boar's Head Carol. Also added were a cast of lords and ladies, hunters and cooks, knights and pages. Eventfully, shepherds and wise men were added to tell the story of the Nativity. other customs and foods were included: Mince pie and plum pudding, good King Wenceslas and his page, a yule log lighted from the last year's embers ... all found a place and a symbolic meaning.


The Festival was brought to colonial America by French Huguenots who had learned of it while in exile in England. In time, it became an annual tradition in New York's Episcopal churches & schools. In 1926, the New York Evening Post described the Boar's Head as a "complex and rich tapestry of exquisite melodies." We hope you agree! We are glad to be able to pass it on to ~another generation!

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