BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search



Share page  


Previous Contents Next

CHRISTMAS DAY.
181
" Caput apri defero
Reddens laudes Domino, The bore's heade in hande bring I With garlandes gay and rosemary, I pray you all synge merely, Qui estis in convivio.
The bore's head I understande Is the chefe servyce in this lande, Loke wherever it be fande, Servite cum cantico.
Be gladde, lordes both more and lasse, For this hath ordayned our stewarde, »                               To chere you all this Christmasse,
The bore's head with mustarde."
A tradition of the same college states the introduction there of the boar's head (which, according to Ritson, is now a mere repre­sentation, " neatly carved in wood "), to be contrived " as a com­memoration of an act of valor, performed by a student of the college, who, while walking in the neighboring forest of Shotover, and reading Aristotle, was suddenly attacked by a wild boar. The furious beast came, open-mouthed, upon the youth ; who, however, very courageously, and with a happy presence of mind, is said to have rammed in the volume, and cried grcecum est,— fairly choking the savage with the sage." To this legend, a hu­morous " song, in honor of the Boar's head, at Queen's College, Oxford," refers,—having for its motto, " Tarn Marti quam Mercu-rio"—but for which we cannot afford space.
The ancient mode of garnishing the boar's head, was with sprigs of sweet-scented herbs. Dekker (than whom we could not name a more appropriate authority on this «ubject), speaking of persons apprehensive of catching the plague, says, " they went (most bitterly) miching and muffled up and down, with rue and wormwood stuft into their eares and nostrils, looking like so many bore's heads, stuck with branches of rosemary, to be served in for brawne at Christmas." The following lines describe the manner of serving up this famous dish :—
-----:' If you would send up the brawner's head,
Sweet rosemary and bays around it spread ;
Previous Contents Next