Boarshead Festival 2015

For many years now, I have wanted to experience the Boar's Head Festival at Christ Church in downtown Cincinnati. One thing or another has prevented me (last year it was a snowstorm the day of the ticket distribution). But this year, the lovely Robin and I attended, in the company of our friends Doug and Julie, and I'm so glad we did. 
The Boar's Head is probably the oldest continuing festival of the Christmas season. On its six-hundredth anniversary in 1940, it was first celebrated at Christ Church, Cincinnati. This year's performances mark the seventy-fifth year. 

The pageant is rooted in ancient times when boars were hunted as a public enemy. At Roman feasts, boar was the first dish served. Roasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets, much like our Thanksgiving turkey. 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 began with the entrance of the yule sprite bearing the tiny light of a burning taper. From it, the Dean of the church lit the great Festival candle and held it high before placing it on the altar.
From that moment on, the music and costumes and beauty of the celebration entranced us. At the midpoint of the program, cast members strode and climbed through the audience, singing the Wassail Song and wishing everyone a happy new year (below). 
From that point in the program, the mood turned worshipful as the nativity of Jesus was beautifully depicted, in one procession after another, including shepherds, magi, and more, filling the church with music both ancient and familiar. 
We attended the final performance of the weekend (I had it on good authority that this would be the best in many ways) starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday. 
It was a delightful experience, especially enlivened by the participation of numerous children in bright array. I'm so grateful to Christ Church for offering this massive event every year, and to Robin, Doug, and Julie for enjoying it with me. 

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