In honor of the return of the Boar’s Head Festival this December, here are a few things you may not know about the history of CUAA’s popular Christmas tradition – along with some you may know already.
A (very) Brief History of the Boar’s Head Festival
- CUAA (known at its founding as Concordia Lutheran Junior College) hires Dr. Paul Foelber as its first choir director. None of what follows would have happened without this genesis event.
- Foelber, professor John Sturmfels, and professor Quentin Marino join forces to begin the Boar’s Head Festival tradition at CUAA. In this video from 2018, founders Dr. Paul Foelber and Professor Quentin Marino share with us how the Concordia tradition first began.
Some background: “While the tradition of the Boar’s Head Festival dates back to the 14th century in England, the actual symbol of serving boar can be traced to ancient Roman times when boar was the preferred dish at great feasts. In medieval England, Christians considered the wild boar to be a ferocious beast and a symbol for evil. They adapted the Roman feast custom of serving a boar’s head on a platter to represent the triumph of the Christ child over evil.”
- Boar’s Head fever spreads through the campus and community, making it one of the best-loved traditions in CUAA history. Through the years, more than 65,000 people have attended the festival.
- After 40 consecutive years and more than 140 consecutive performances, Dr. Neil Skov, emeritus professor of science, retires from the role of Good King Wenceslas. He hand picks Jonathon Neuendorf to take over the role.
Fun fact: More than 100 participants—including faculty, staff, students, and community members—take part in the festival each year. Ranging in age from young children to experienced seniors, roles include musicians, singers, actors, and more.
- The Festival takes a one-year hiatus due to the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is the first time the event has been canceled in its history, but Concordia’s Choir recorded 25 minutes of the most beloved numbers from the Boar’s Head Festival for enthusiasts to still enjoy from home during the Christmas season.
- December 3-5: Boar’s Head is back for its 43rd annual performance! And there was much rejoicing.
Ticket and participation info
Tickets for the 2021 Boar’s Head Festival at CUAA will go on sale on October 15, 2021 at cuaa.edu/boarshead. If you would like more information or are interested in taking part in this year’s festival, please email CUAA’s Director of Theater Amanda Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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