Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival

Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival

The Louisville Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is a Kentucky Christmas tradition.

2022 marks the 43rd Anniversary of the St. Paul UMC Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival, an event that brings more than 2,000 people to our church to share in a unique depiction of the gift of Christ to the world. This is an extra special year as the 41st and 42nd productions were cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.

The steering committee has met, plans are underway, and everyone is enthusiastic about bringing the tradition back to our community. There is always immense excitement from our children and youth as the Festival approaches, and their excitement is contagious! This is also a meaningful time for families to participate together and strengthen relationships with others in our church family.

Our church is able to produce this show because of the generosity of our members. As the Boar’s Head Festival is not a part of the regular church budget, each year we seek to raise necessary funds to present this gift to our community. Last year, we raised some money before we had to cancel, but we need to raise additional money to fully fund the show.

We are introducing some significant changes in the event this year. First, we will offer a celebration reception after each performance in place of the candlelight dinner. A creative team is planning a fun event, which will include the wassail and other traditional tastes, performers, and a photo booth! We hope this experience will be fun and meaningful for attendees. Also, we will move to four rather than five performances. They will take place on Dec. 29 and 30 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets will be available beginning December 12.

Our church’s youth and children drive the Boar’s Head Festival each year. Approximately 75 people volunteer in various roles and have a wonderful time of intense fellowship in rehearsals and shows. Several adults have stories of when they first participated as a child.

St. Paul UMC has a rich tradition of the arts in ministry. Praising God through music and drama is a beautiful way to worship and to be blessed. We know there are many people who leave the Festival feeling the beauty and love that Jesus brought to all, from peasants to kings.

It’s not too late to make a contribution to support this year’s performance. You may send in a check, or donate here:

We are dedicating this year’s show to a key volunteer, Pauletta Matthews. She served in important roles for many years – Boar’s Head Committee Chair, Backstage Manager, Seamstress, etc. We will be celebrating her service, along with the positive attitude and encouragement she shared.

Volunteers are ALSO needed on Dec. 26 when we transform the sanctuary by setting up theatre lighting and building the staging for the show. If you can spare an hour or two that day, drop by and get some exercise. There are other ways to help, like ushering, volunteering to be part of the festival performance, and inviting your friends and family. 

Follow the Boar’s Head Facebook Page and other church news for the latest on the St. Paul UMC Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival.

Donation levels:

  • Sprites (up to $99)
  • Shepherds ($100-$249)
  • Saints ($250-$499)
  • Angels ($500 – $749)
  • Kings ($750 – $999)
  • Stars of Wonder ($1000 and up)

The Performance

A tiny gold sprite bears a lighted candle into the darkened church, symbolizing the coming of the light into the darkened world. Representing the church, a minister receives the light. From this flame rises the lights of the altar and then, the lights of the church itself.  A brass fanfare announces the entrance of the Boar’s Head Celebrants.  Those from many walks of life, from the greatest to the humblest process to the altar. All bring gifts, suggesting the fullness of Gods gifts to us, to lay at the feet of Christ.

Next come the waits: medieval carolers sharing gifts of gladness. King Wenceslas and his page enter and share their journey of caring for fellow humans. Woodsmen and yule log sprites search for a suitable log to take home to the fireplace. The yule log is lit from last year’s embers. It represents the warmth of the family fireside and the continuance of human life and concern. Additionally, the Yule Log symbolizes the rekindling of love. Finally the shepherds come, their simple adoration joined by the greatest of Wise Men, also humbled by this newborn Child.

When all have assembled, the haunting hymn In the Bleak Midwinter is sung by both cast and congregation. All kneel and adore the Lord of lords to the music of the Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. The church is darkened and the Epiphany Star shines. The Festival ends with a majestic brass fanfare and a rendition of O Come, All Ye Faithful, sung by cast and congregation. 

The History

The history of the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival reaches back into the days of the Roman Empire. The boar was the first dish served at great Roman feasts. In Norman England, the boar was the sovereign of the great forests, a menace to man and a symbol of evil. The serving of the boar’s head represents the triumph of Christ over evil.

The Festival has its roots in centuries of tradition, having been first presented at least as early as 1340 at Queen’s college, Oxford, England. In time it became part of Christmas celebrations in the great Manor Houses of England. The festival came to America in 1888 to Hoosac School, Hoosac, New York. The Louisville Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is a descendant of that early festival. 

Read more about the history of the festival. 

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