Twelfth Night – Wassailing, and the Boar’s Head Feast

Anglo-Saxon tradition dictated that at the beginning of each year, the lord of the manor would greet the assembled multitude with the toast waes hael, meaning “be well” or “be in good health”… the Wassailing celebrations generally take place on the Twelfth Night, 5th January.

Source: Wassailing | Historic UK

Tonight is Twelfth Night, the night of the Twelfth (and final) Day of Christmastide – although some traditionalists will continue to celebrate all the way up until Candlemas, on February 2nd, even I don’t (usually) go that far! One of the customs that grew up around Twelfth Night, in “Merrie Olde England,” was Wassailing (from “Waes hael,” Old English for “be hale,” or “be healthy” (*).


*  “Halig,” in Old English, from which we get hael, and from thence our (somewhat archaic) modern English word “hale,” can mean not only hale and healthy, but whole – think “holistic” – and even “holy.” These are all word-concepts that were closely related in the language and thought of our ancient ancestors!


Apple trees were wassailed, in hope of a good apple harvest in the Autumn, and groups of wassailers went from door to door – in a sort of cross between mumming and trick-or-treat – singing carols, and begging food, drink, and “a penny” (which of course was worth much more than one of our pennies: originally, a “penny” was a Roman denarius, and was reckoned as a day’s wage) from the householders. Here is one of the wassailing songs – probably the most famous!

For further information on both varieties of wassailing, read the linked article!

Another Twelfth Night custom that has experienced somewhat of a revival in recent years – especially in more traditional and liturgically-minded churches, but also some residential schools – is the Boar’s Head Feast.

No photo description available.

The centerpiece of the feast is the head of a wild boar (or nowadays, usually a domestic pig), and sometimes the whole animal, was roasted and carried ceremonially into the feasting-hall, accompanied by musicians and revelers singing a traditional carol (called, appropriately, “The Boar’s Head Carol”), the chorus of which goes,

Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino!

(“I bring in the boar’s head, giving thanks to the Lord!”)

The song is in what in musical terms is called the “macaronic” mode, which means that it combines two languages: in this case, English and Latin. It has been noted that

“The Boar’s Head Carol is ancient compared to most of the carols for Christmas. It actually was written in Middle English and titled, ‘The Bores Heed in Hande Bring I’ and wasn’t considered a Christmas Carol except for the custom of eating your finest meal at Christmastime. In that way, wild boar became associated with Christmas.”

This is only partially true, however. There is a Christmas, and therefore specifically Christian, meaning underpinning the song, as another commentator has pointed out:

“In medieval times if you traveled from village to village, you’d generally go by footpath through the woods. Being attacked by a wild boar was a very real possibility and a sharp stick wasn’t much of a defensive weapon. Wild boars tore up people, domestic animals, vegetable gardens, vineyards etc. so they weren’t looked upon fondly and were considered entirely evil, even demonic by the common people.”

Of course, even in pre-Christian times, wild boars were feared (and respected) by the ancient Celtic and Germanic peoples. Warriors often took them as what we might call today “totem animals,” for their ferocity, and the extreme difficulty in killing them. But to continue:

“The boar’s head decorated on a platter, served at Christmas, symbolized the fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth, born of a virgin, to defeat sin, death and the Devil. It was/is a celebration of Christ’s victory over the devil. The carol mentions the ‘King of Bliss.’ That is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ who gives us bliss by having won for us eternal life. It was a different culture and mentality in medieval times but sometimes, they were spot-on.”

It takes a mental shift for us to think of eating pork as symbolizing victory over the Devil! But when you look at it in its historic context, it makes sense. Alas, no Boar’s Head Feast for me this night! I long for the time when I can once again host a Twelfth Night gathering, but that time is not yet. However, I did enjoy crock-potted barbecued pork for supper, and am still enjoying a large mug of homemade wassail, made with Baugher’s apple cider (and mulling spices), with a splash of orange juice and a touch of honey. Delicious!

The boar’s flesh, on a plate I ate:
Bedecked with sauce, that was its fate!
O, wassail I shall drink ’til late,
Et manducare cantico!
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We Are Ruled By Mercenaries Who Feel No Long-Term Obligation To The People They Rule | Tucker Carlson

“The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children.”

Source: Tucker Carlson: We Are Ruled By Mercenaries Who Feel No Long-Term Obligation To The People They Rule | Video | RealClearPolitics

Paleo-conservative commentator Tucker Carlson hits the nail squarely on the head! To his inestimable credit, he steers between the Scylla of socialism, and the Charybdis of mercantile plutocracy to place conservatism in its proper context: protection of family, culture, and society.

“Donald Trump rode a surge of popular discontent all the way to the White House. Does he understand the political revolution he harnessed? Can he reverse the economic and cultural trends that are destroying America? Those are open questions. But they’re less relevant than we think. At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live?

“These are the only questions that matter. The answer used to be obvious: the overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. Yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.”

Amen! There is a world of difference between mere economic standard of living – which has been slipping for decades, anyway – and quality of life. Far too many, on both sides of the political aisle, absolutely fail to realize or appreciate that fact! Economic solvency is essential to life and security. Until one is economically secure, one has difficulty focusing on the higher things, as I have reason to know from my own experience.

FDR, liberal progressive though he was, was absolutely correct when he asserted, in his so-called “economic bill of rights,” that “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men,” and called for, among other things,

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad

The right of every family to a decent home

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.

These ought not, in my opinion, to be arguable. We may argue about how they may best be accomplished; but not, I believe, about the fundamental principles themselves.

Note that FDR starts, not with “entitlements,” but with “a useful and remunerative job,” and the rights to “earn enough,” to “raise and sell [one’s] products,” and “to trade.” Only then does he move on to what is sometimes called the “social safety net,” for those who, for reasons beyond their control, suffer from “old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.” That is putting things in their proper order!

Note also that (despite the expression “second” or “economic bill of rights”) these were “proposed not to amend the Constitution, but rather as a political challenge, encouraging Congress to draft legislation to achieve these aspirations.”

At any rate, economic security, grounded in fair and equitable employment, and a fair and equitable return on one’s investment – whether capital or labour – is essential for a reasonable quality of life. But prosperity, for its own sake, or as an absolute goal, is not only an illusion, it is an idol. Here’s Tucker Carlson again:

“The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared. But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.”

As a Christian and a traditionalist, I would add a proper relationship with God, and the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, to the list of ingredients required to be fully happy! But Carlson, of course, is speaking to a wider audience, and I cannot disagree with anything he says, here.

The problem is that our supposed “elites” are generally made up of neoliberals and neoconservatives who are basically two sides to the same coin. I strongly recommend that you read and/or listen to all of Carlson’s rather epic monologue! But as he accurately points out,

“Both [libertarians – which include many who claim to be either “liberal” or “conservative,” politically and socially – and social conservatives] miss the obvious point: culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two…

“[Doing so] is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.”

Yet (as Carlson points out) a culture which set up investment bankers or Facebook executives as the goal for which we ought to be striving is, itself, a big part of the problem! As I say, economic prosperity, pursued for its own sake, is not only an illusion, but idolatry. In contrast, Carlson asks us to consider:

“What kind of country do you want to live in? A fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don’t accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement. A country you might recognize when you’re old. A country that listens to young people who don’t live in Brooklyn. A country where you can make a solid living outside of the big cities. A country where Lewiston, Maine seems almost as important as the west side of Los Angeles. A country where environmentalism means getting outside and picking up the trash. A clean, orderly, stable country that respects itself. And above all, a country where normal people with an average education who grew up no place special can get married, and have happy kids, and repeat unto the generations. A country that actually cares about families, the building block of everything.

Amen!

“What will it take a get a country like that? Leaders who want it.”

Which means, of course, that we the people will have to elect them! And / or, pressure our existing leaders to behave more like the servants of the people they are supposed to be, and less the “mercenaries” of which Carlson speaks.

“For now, those leaders will have to be Republicans. There’s no option at this point. But first, Republican leaders will have to acknowledge that market capitalism is not a religion. [emphasis added] Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families isn’t worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.”

Again, amen. Amen and amen!

Read the essay, or listen to / watch the monologue. It’s worth it!

And then, let’s do what we can to work toward that sort of country. We had it once, and therefore we can again.

How America helped revive the Boar’s Head feast | Catholic Herald

https://anglophilicanglican.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/Screen-Shot-2018-12-17-at-10.55.45.jpg?w=840

“Yet as with Christmas itself, Anglo-Catholicism and a great many other good things, Romanticism opened up the early 19th century to a rebirth of the Boar’s Head…”

Source: How America helped revive the Boar’s Head feast | Catholic Herald

“The boar’s head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all the land…”

But not so rare, it seems, as it once was!

“Despite the cosmopolitan origins of so much of our distinctly American manner of celebrating Our Lord’s birth, in the popular mind… England is seen as the Christmas country par excellence. And among its customs that we try to emulate – in addition to the aforementioned carols services and the yule log – is the Boar’s Head Festival…

“The late 19th and early 20th centuries in the US saw an explosion of Anglophilia among the ‘better classes’… In this atmosphere, Dr Edward Dudley Tibbits, an Episcopal priest, brought the Boar’s Head tradition in 1892 to the Hoosac School in upstate New York, which he had founded three years previously.”

It was picked up by a number of Episcopal churches and cathedrals, and from thence has spread: “it can now be found at Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches as well… In recent years, it has finally come to a few Catholic churches too.”

I have tended to think of the Boar’s Head Feast as a Twelfth Night (Eve of the Epiphany) custom; but in fact it was not, of old, limited to that occasion. As this article notes, “In medieval England, a highly decorated boar’s head was a centrepiece of Yuletide feasting in abbeys and great halls alike,” although it is true that “it is usually offered during the Twelve Days after Christmas, and so helps emphasise that magical liturgical period between Christmas and Epiphany.”

Like many ancient customs, it may also – as the article again notes – serve as a useful means of evangelization! Such an event may attract those who would be unlikely to darken the doors of a church, under other conditions. And in a jaded, secular, and gloomily (or sometime manically) self-referential age, ancient customs and traditions hold a good deal of appeal, for many, and this trend seems only likely to increase.

And if the seemingly secular jollity points to higher, sacred truths – as the Boar’s Head Feast points to Christmas, and thus, the Incarnation of God’s Incarnate Word in the Person of His Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ – so much the better! For, after all:

“Our steward hath provided this,
In honour of the King of Bliss…

Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino!”

(“The boar’s head I bear, giving praises to the Lord!”)

Deo gratias!

Nothing Says Woman Quite Like a Dress – Crisis Magazine

Source: Nothing Says Woman Quite Like a Dress – Crisis Magazine

If there is one thing that I think is a vibrantly encouraging sign in the process of re-traditionalization in the West – a movement which seems slowly but surely to be gathering momentum – it is the way in which more and more women seem to be finding value in traditional feminine practices, whether it is home-making, the wearing of the veil in church, or in this case, what used to be the sine qua non of femininity, wearing a dress.

I will gladly admit, I am biased: I grew up with women wearing dresses. Both my grandmothers, and my mother, wore exclusively dresses or skirts – even for housework – all through my childhood and young-adult years, and in fact until the day they died. Ma, it is true, did try out the “pantsuit,” when those were in fashion; but she was not comfortable in it and quickly abandoned it, despite the protests of my older brothers, who I suppose wanted a “hip” mother.

Well, Ma may not have been “hip,” but she was a wonderful mother, wife, and homemaker, and my absolute model and ideal of feminine beauty – inside and out! So while I confess to appreciating, in my more carnal moments, the appeal of an attractive young woman in well-fitting jeans, shorts, or a short skirt, it is a dress, or a well-chosen skirt-and-blouse ensemble, that says “womanhood” to me. Continue reading “Nothing Says Woman Quite Like a Dress – Crisis Magazine”

QOTD: Turley on tradition, moral obligation, and harmony

While traditional societies believe that every person born into the world is born into a world of divine obligation, where we’re morally obliged to conform our lives into a harmonious relationship with the divine meaning and purpose of the world around us, globalistic secular societies reduce the human person to a sovereign individual who has no moral obligations apart from that which he or she chooses for his or herself.”

– Dr. Steve Turley

Secular, globalist, and Left-wing partisans would not see that as a reduction, of course; they see it as an elevation: the individual human being enjoys god-like sovereignty, and the ability to re-make the world around him or her (or “they,” or “xe,” or whatever…) in his/her/its own image. But they are wrong. The world is as it is, not as any of us would have it be, be we traditional or “progressive.”

The thing is, though, reality favors the traditional. It’s pesky, that way! If you jump off a roof, gravity kicks in, and you’ll likely break your leg (or worse). Men are better at some things and worse at others; and vice versa for women: traditional gender roles are not, contra the progressives, entirely cultural constructs; and the cultural norms that do exist are rooted in biological reality. Birds of a feather really do flock together. And no matter how badly you want to be a different “gender,” you are what your genes make you: you can fight them, but you can’t change them.

And you know all those dratted moral standards that so interfere with our freedom, from the Ten Commandments, to the fable of the ant and the grasshopper (and its analogs in other cultures), to the universal human norm that one should be very cautious about trusting those who aren’t part of one’s “tribe,” and especially those who have a known history of causing trouble?

Yeah, those: they’re there to keep you safe and secure, doing what needs to be done to in order (emphasis on “order,” since lack of order leads to chaos and destruction) to survive and thrive within a relatively close-knit and homogeneous community… which is the only kind you can be sure has your best interests at heart. In other words, moral standards don’t exist to make your life difficult; quite the contrary: they exist for your own good. Continue reading “QOTD: Turley on tradition, moral obligation, and harmony”

Glories of the West: LUCIA – The night of light | Jonna Jinton

Sankta Lucia – the Feast of St. Lucia (“Lucy”), whose name means “Light” – is an ancient tradition in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries (although the Christian figure of St. Lucia originated in Sicily, interestingly enough). Her feast-day falls on the 13th of December, which in the Old (Julian) Calendar, would have been the Winter Solstice.

Although she is a Christian saint, with a Christian story, “Sankta Lucia” can also be translated “Holy Light,” and the folksy, homey rituals surrounding St. Lucia’s Day – in which the girl or young woman chosen to portray St. Lucia for that year, wearing a crown of candles, brings gifts of steaming-hot coffee and sweet rolls to her family (or village), while her attendants sing traditional songs – is a beautiful and moving enactment of the rebirth of light in the midst of the darkest time of the year.

This video was created by the incomparable Jonna Jinton, who writes,

“Lucia is a tradition in Sweden where we bring light to the darkness. Since many years back I have always gone out in the middle of the Lucia night to light up hundreds of candles in the forest, with the intention to spread light into the world.

“Maybe you have seen my earlier lucia-films here on my YouTube. But this year was special. Just as the other lucia-nights I prepared to get out and light up my candles. But this night, the forest surprised me.

“This film is for all the world. For all of you wonderful people out there ♥ I hope to be able to spread some light into your hearts. Thank you for taking the time to watch it.”

Do yourself a favour, and watch this in full-screen… and allow yourself to get lost in it. Magical!

Modernism, Traditionalism, and the Role of Women | Pendulum

Source: Modernism, Traditionalism, and the Role of Women – Pendulum

This is an absolutely splendid essay by friend and supporter of The Anglophilic Anglican, Stephen Clay McGeehee, and I commend it to your attention. He writes,

“The polarization that we see in the Western world is not just the political Left vs. Right. It is modernism vs. traditionalism, urban vs. rural, chaos vs. order, hedonism vs. morality, Secularism vs. Christianity, egalitarianism vs. hierarchy, and many others. Men vs. women should not be part of this polarization, yet that is precisely what feminism has done,”

and continues,

“Modernism tells us that we are all interchangeable economic units whose worth is best expressed in dollars. Traditionalism tells us that men and women were both made for each other and made to fill their own unique roles.”

Indeed! We didn’t get where we are overnight, and we’re not going to get back overnight, either; but if we’re going to get there at all, we need to begin perceiving with clear eyes where the problems lie, and what to do about them. Stephen has taken a major stride in this direction, as you will see.

A great essay: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.