Wednesday 29 December 2010

12 days of Mithra-mas day 5:

December 30th Bringing in the Boar

Then the grim boar's head
frowned on high
crested with bay & rosemary
Sir Walter Scott Marion

This has to be one of my favorite days of the Yule countdown. When I was younger my mother was big into making an amazing Boar head from pineapples, with cheese, cherries, & some of course ham. More on that later.
During Middle ages, where some of our traditions of Yule stem from, the hunting of the wild boar, was an event not to be missed. The boar plays a prominent part in many of the Yule traditions due to the wild boars territory; the boar (which is the ancestor of domesticated pigs) roamed most of Europe, some parts of the middle East & into parts of Africa. 

The Celts highly valued the boar in myths, as it was sacred to the Goddess Arduinna.  One of the more popular stories include the tale of Finn McCool (Finn mac Cumhaill) who lures his rival to his death of being gored by a boar. Within the Arthurian legend the great magician Merlin is said to have given one of his greatest compositions & addressed it to a pig.

In the Scandinavian tradition there are two great boars; one which Freyja rides called Hildesvini which means battle swine when she wasn't riding her chariot.  She even used the guise of a boar to hide one of her protege.  The second boar belongs to Freyr named Gullinbursti which meant Golden mane. This was due tot he fact that the boar was created for Freyr by a dwarf, the boar's mane or bristles would glow in the dark allowing his owner to see.

There is of course the two boars listed with the Greek mythology as well. One which Hercules had to kill as one of his 12 Labors and the other boar, called the Calydonian Boar which was hunted by many of the greats from Greek myths including the huntress Atalanta.  here also we find the shape of the boar being used to kill someone, as Ares the god of war takes this shape to kill his son, in a jealous rage.

The boar is much revered as a Christmas meal because it was one of the few animals that didn't hibernate over the winter which meant there was still meat to be had during the harsh months.  There are many tales of the roasting of boar meat for instance in the Welsh story of  Gofannon's Feast, there is the boar that is consumed but never finished and would replenish as long as the bones weren't eaten. There are even still traditions in Queen's College Oxford where the boar's head is ceremonially paraded around to the accompanied by the singing of a carol.  
There is of course that awesome first line from this carol:(which I remember attempting to sing but never getting the right words)
there was a pig, went out to dig
Christmas day, christmas day
There was a pig went out to dig
on Christmas day on christmas day

Honoring the Boar
One of the ways to honor the boar would be to have either an image or a symbol of the boar on your altar.
You can also leave out an apple or an orange at your back door for the great pig to feast on.

Making a Boar's Head
This is great for those that don't eat meat as well as those that do, simply modify the recipe, by changing the snacks you place on the sticks.
  • Cut in half a pineapple, remove the inner core then place back together.
  • My mother cuts criss-cross pattern (creates a grid pattern) then placed toothpicks filled with cheese, ham, olives, or cherries all over.
  • Cut off the top of the pineapple & create a snout with orange and cherries for eyes, for the tail you can use licorice, or use a twizzler which has been frozen into the curly shape.

You can then bring in the platter with much fanfare, of singing & dancing.

Information from Winter Solstice by John Matthews, and boar image courtesy of
Celebrate with fanfare the bringing in of the boar
Be Blessed

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