With a regal cast of royalty, guards, singers and other performers, the Oakland Presbyterian Church presented its Boar’s Head Pageant for a second year Dec. 13 and 14. It had been a dream of Bob and Pat Hines to bring the Christmas festival to the church he pastors after attending one in Pennsylvania for many years.
“It became an annual event for my family to go to,” Pastor Hines said. “We hope that it will be an annual performance (at Oakland Presbyterian).”
The pageant uses Medieval costuming and English Christmas music to tell the story of Jesus’ birth, and about 120 people are involved in the performance in some way, Hines said, including actors, musicians and behind-the-scenes assistants. Many of the costumes were made by members of the congregation.
Jennifer Hunt is the music director, and Diane Flagler played the organ for the show.
“Those two people are key,” Hines said. “Without those two, it wouldn’t happen.”
The Boar’s Head Pageant is considered one of the oldest enduring Christmas celebrations, dating back to England in the 1300s. On its 600th anniversary in 1940, it was first celebrated at Christ Church, Cincinnati.
This pageant is rooted in ancient times when the ferocious boar ruled the forest. Humans hunted the boar, and at Roman feasts, it was the first dish served. 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 originated in 1340 at Queen’s College, Oxford, England. According to legend, 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 scholar rammed his metal-bound philosophy book down the throat of the charging animal, and it choked to death. That night the boar’s head, finely dressed and garnished, was borne in procession to the dining room, accompanied by carolers.
By the 1600s, the traditional Boar’s Head Festival had grown to include lords, ladies, knights, historical characters, cooks, hunters and pages. Eventually, shepherds and wise men were added to tell the story of the Nativity.