Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year! And today is Christmas Eve!
I know many of us hasten to gather recipes for last minute shopping to make our Christmas feasts perfect. My family’s Boar’s Head tradition is something I have greatly missed since I moved to New York, but playing the Boar’s Head Carol again, and again has kept my spirit bright.
The Boar’s Head feast is probably the oldest continuing Christmas tradition. In Roman Catholic medieval England, the roasted boar was served sometime during the twelve days of Christmas, and was a was a symbol of the Christ child’s triumph over sin. The expansive ceremony in full gallantry began at St. John’s College in Cambridge, England in 1607. The Boar’s Head was served with mustard, and bedecked with bay leaves, rosemary, holly and of course, was presented on a silver platter while singing the namesake tune of The Boar’s Head Carol for a boisterous celebration!
The ceremony was brought to America with British settlers, and has been celebrated in many colleges, and church ceremonies throughout the United States. The oldest annually celebrated Boar’s Head feast is held at Hoosack College in Hoosick, New York. This year, without my family, I’m happy to begin a new tradition that has been celebrated by Italian Americans for generations; The Feast of Seven Fishes. In Southern Italy it is known as Viglia di Natalia, and is a feast that leads up to the birth of the Christ child at Midnight. It is a tradition that sprouts from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence. Though, menus will vary among Italian families, my wonderful Italian dining companion, Chef Alex Ruggieri is preparing raw oysters, crab legs in drawn butter, smoked trout tapenade, his Nona’s stuffed shrimp, scungilli salad, linguini alle vongole, frito misto, and roasted whole branzino!
Whatever you, and your family will be feasting on this Christmas tide, I encourage you all to embrace your traditions. Sing, eat, drink, and be full of joy and peace!
In Dulci Jubilo! Merry Christmas!