Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival

Last Saturday I traveled to Fort Worth with a busload of my church friends to see The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival at University Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This celebration marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas.

An ancient legend serves as the basis for this festival: an Oxford University student, while strolling in a forest reading the works of Aristotle, was charged by a wild and raging boar. The quick thinking student thrust his volume of Aristotle into the throat of the boar, putting an end to this deadly threat.

Hence, a festival celebrating the triumph of reason over brute force began at Oxford. When the Church adapted the festival, it gained a Christian significance: the boar’s head, symbolic representation of evil, is overcome by good through the teachings of Christ (symbolized by light).

Already old in tradition when presented at Queens College, Oxford, in 1340, The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is perhaps the oldest continuing Festival of Christmas. The first known public presentation in America took place in 1888. University Christian Church has celebrated the festival since 1976. Over three hundred costumed church members, clergy, and musicians participate. It’s hard to imagine how much work goes into this performance.

My pictures don’t convey the beauty and wonder of this festival. I took over a hundred photos, and my friend Kathy gave me her hundred or so photos, but I'm trying to control my obsessive tendencies, so I'll only show you a few of them. Besides, too much happened too fast for me to document it like I wanted to. Think people—lots of people—in medieval and costumes. Think pageantry. Think spectacular.

Here are a few highlights:

The boar's head has to be carried in, of course.

Pretty dancing girls add beauty and grace to any performance.

The famous Good King Wenceslas made a guest appearance and took care of the peasant gathering winter fuel.

There were some unexpected moments of drama.

Angels appeared to some shepherds. (And wise men came bearing gifts, but like I said, I can't show you everything!)

Space limitations notwithstanding, of course I have to include the photo of all these cute kids. I'll show up to watch kids perform any day! They were great.

The climax was awesome.

Very exciting! (A bit too much excitement for the baby, perhaps, who began to wail.)

The pageant concludes when the minister and Yule Sprite carry the Christ Candle into God's world, that God's love may be known to all.

If you ever get a chance to go to one of these festivals, GO!


drlobojo said...

Racoon John Smith would be appalled. What ever happen to Restorationism?

Looks like fun though.

Oklahoma Granny said...

We attended a Boar's Head Feast once a long time ago but it wasn't nearly as grand as the one you attended. What a treat that must have been!

Marla said...

How neat! I had never heard of this but now I really want to attend one. Great pictures!