ROCKLAND, Maine — The journey through the 12 days of Christmas to the Feast of the Epiphany will continue with the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival this weekend at Rockland Congregational Church, 180 Limerock St.
The church event combines two ancient customs. The tradition of the boar’s head dates back more than 2,000 years to the Roman Empire, when it was the first dish served at great feasts.
In Norman England, the boar was the sovereign of the forest and a symbol of evil because the animal was considered to be a menace, according to information in the program printed for last year’s festival. By the 12th century, much of Western Europe had converted to Christianity and the boar’s head became symbolic of the triumph of Christ over Satan.
The yule log celebration occurred during the winter solstice, when a fresh log was lighted from last year’s embers. From earliest times, it has symbolized the rekindling of love, and since Christ’s birth, the savior’s love incarnate.
The first recorded boar’s head procession was held at Queens College in Oxford, England, shortly after its founding in A.D. 1340. It became popular at the great manor houses of 17th century England and was imported to Colonial America, where it was first presented in Connecticut.
It was brought to Rockland by the church’s former pastor, the Rev. D. Elizabeth Mauro, who now works for the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches in Oak Creek, Wis.
The more than 130 cast and crew members from midcoast Maine will be joined by animals from Zabby’s Traveling Farm Animals and Second Chance Farm. Music will be performed by the Chancel and Handbell choirs directed by Richard Einsel. Performers from the Rockport Dance Conservatory also take part in the program.
It will be the fourth year the church has presented the festival as a gift to the community.
Performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2; 4:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3; and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4.
Tickets are $15 for reserved seating and $10 for general admission. The doors open an hour before each performance. Guests are asked to be seated in time for the preshow that starts 30 minutes before each performance. Refreshments will be served after each show.
All proceeds will benefit the Fuel Assistance Fund of Area Interfaith Outreach.
For reservations and information, call 594-8656.