3rd Saturday of Advent

Boar’s Head

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

54 And when the rotting body has been clothed in what can’t decay, and the dying body has been clothed in what can’t die, then this statement in scripture will happen:

Death has been swallowed up by a victory.
55         Where is your victory, Death?
        Where is your sting, Death?

(56 Death’s sting is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.) 57 Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord.


Traditionally celebrated during the twelve days of Christmas, the Boar’s head feast is a complex event that dates back almost seven hundred years.  Anyone who has seen a boar understands the danger present in these ferocious and muscular beasts.  From very early times, in Europe, they were seen as the dominant animal in the forest and, because of that reputation, became the prize meat at Roman feasts, served first to show the prowess of the host.  After Christianity came to dominate the Roman Empire, the boar took on new meaning.  With its fierce demeanor the wild boar came to be equated with sin.  At Christmas festivals a boar would be served as a reminder of Christ’s conquering of sin and death.  The tradition of roasting a boar for Christmas continued into Medieval England when the pageant celebrated today began.  Beginning at Queen’s College, Oxford the festival celebrates Christ as the light coming into the world to defeat sin.  The festival also gives glory and thanks to God as the provider of the feast.  Consider the lyrics of the Boar’s Head Carol, “Our steward hath provided this, In honour of the King of Bliss… Caput apri defero Reddens laudes Domino (Translation: The Boar’s head I bear, Giving praises to the Lord)

The aspect of the festival I find most meaningful is the recognition of the festive nature of life in Christ’s conquering of sin.  During the festival, only the boar’s head is brought in a sign that the beast has been killed.  Sometimes at Christmas we can divorce ourselves from the purpose of the Incarnation.  The boar’s head helps us remember that Jesus came to slaughter sin.  We feast not simply because of the Incarnation, but because Christ has destroyed our enemy and in doing so made it safe to feast.  This festival helps us to see Christmas in light of God’s full plan and to remind us that it is only because of God’s plan that we are able to take part in a feast.  Without God we would have nothing to feast on and no reason to feast.  

Eternal God, who through your Son you conquered sin and death, help me also to overcome the sin that I see around me; and to celebrate only through your strength, through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen

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