BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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CHRISTMAS DAY.                                            179
giving some description of the forms which attended the introduc­tion of the boar's head at the feasts of our ancestors.
The boar's head soused, then, was carried into the great hall, with much state; preceded by the Master of the Revels, and fol­lowed by choristers and minstrels, singing and playing composi­tions in its honor. Dugdale relates that at the Inner Temple, for the first course of the Christmas dinner, was " served in, a fair and large bore's head, upon a silver platter, with minstrelsye." And here we would observe,—what we do not think has been before remarked,—that the boar's-head carols appear to have sys­tematically consisted of three verses. A manuscript, indeed, which we once met with, stated that the " caroll, upon the bring-ynge in of the bore's head, was sung to the glorie of the blessed Trinytie ;" and the three subsequent illustrative specimens,—in which the peculiarity mentioned may be observed,—tend to con­firm this notion. At St. John's, Oxford, in 1607, before the bearer of the boar's head,—who was selected for his height and lusti­ness, and wore a green silk scarf, with an empty sword-scabbard dangling at his side,—went a runner, dressed in a horseman's coat, having a boar's spear in his hand,—a huntsman in green, carrying the naked and bloody sword belonging to the head-bear­er's scabbard,—and " two pages in tafatye sarcenet," each with a " mess of mustard." Upon which occasion these verses were sung:—
" The boare is dead, Loe, heare is his head,
What man could have done more Then his head of to strike, Meleager like,
And bringe it as I doe before ?
He livinge spoyled Where good men toy led,
Which made kinde Ceres sorrye ; But now, dead and drawne, Is very good brawne,
And wee have brought it for ye.
Then sett downe the swineyard, The foe to the vineyard,
Lett Bacchus crowne his fall;
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