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 successive log.
No one knows who planned the 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 Wencelas, 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 17th century. The custom of the Boar's Head and Yule Log was carried to colonial America.
Thumbnails: Click each picture to see what Boar's Head looks like!
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The pictures below are from the 2015 Boar's Head! Click on the image to enlarge.