Beheaded Pigs and Fancy Logs?

The Boar’s Head and Yule Log festival is an Epiphany tradition dating back to medieval times which, like most things medieval, draws together Christian and pagan metaphors. It is believed to have begun back in the 1300′s when a scholar at Oxford, while walking through the forest, was attacked by a wild boar. Having no other weapon with him, the scholar used his metal-bound philosophy book to kill the beast and that night the boar’s head, finely garnished, was paraded into the halls of the college to the strains of Christian carols. The presentation of the boar’s head came, over time, to symbolize Christ’s triumph over sin. Today the festival is a lavish church festival with bright costumes, choral music, and all the necessary pageantry.

Find a nearby Boar’s Head festival on Google. Or, failing that, incorporate a few elements of it into your own Epiphany worship:

Incorporate the Yule Log tradition either by burning a real log or serving a log-shaped “Buche de Noel” cake. Over the years the log has symbolized everything from fertility, to rest, to protection. Read more to decide how to make it meaningful for your worship community.

Another tasty Epiphany tradition is Wassail, a spiced wine or ale, served warm.

Choose some songs from the Boar’s Head festival to incorporate in your worship:

“Kings to Thy Rising” is a great hymn to reflect on the visitation of the Magi (and which could work as a song or a responsive reading). Here are the lyrics.  Follow this link and scroll down to find the music for it.

Kings to Thy Rising
French, 16th Century

Noel! Noel!
Where is He, born King of the Jews!
For we have seen His star in the East.
Where is he, born King of the Jews?
For we have come to worship Him.

In Bethlehem the King is born!
Rejoice! Emmanuel has come!
 Sing we Noel! Noel! Noel!

Where is He, born King of the Jews!
For we have seen His star in the East.
Where is he, born King of the Jews?
For we have come to worship Him.

‘Tis here he lies, Give thanks, be glad!
Amidst the oxen sleeps our Lord.
Sing we Noel! Noel! Noel!

Where is He, born King of the Jews!
For we have seen His star in the East.
Where is he, born King of the Jews?
For we have come to worship Him.

Behold your Lord! Rejoice! Rejoice!
In praise lift up a joyful voice!
Sing we Noel! Noel! Noel!

At last the long and hopeful search is done,
Afar from distant lands we come,
Moved by great tidings of a newborn King,
Costly gifts to him we bring.

Fall on your knees, proclaim His birth.
Let there be peace throughout the earth.
Sing we Noel! Noel! Noel!

What small hints of pageantry and grandeur can you use this week to remind worshipers of the Magi and how they set aside their status to receive a tiny child?

Image © Adam Koford (Ape Lad)

Share

About Mandy Smith

Originally from Australia, Mandy Smith is an artist and author. She serves as Pastor at University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio and is the creator of The Collect, a citywide trash-to-art project. Mandy lives with her professor husband and two children in a little house where the teapot is always warm. Mandy’s latest book, Making a Mess and Meeting God: Unruly Ideas and Everyday Experiments for Worship is available for purchase through Standard Publishing.

Switch to our mobile site