By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

The Boar’s Head Festival and Feast is the final gift of each Christmas season at St. Mark’s-In-the-Valley Episcopal Church, a celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany.

The Ruler of Misrule, Alicia Kerish Thomas, disrupts the festivities to the amusement of the guests.

Members of the Central Coast Pipes and Drums opened the festivities on Sunday, Jan. 6, marching up the center aisle of the church playing bagpipes, followed by the Yule Sprite, played by Mae Urquidez, carrying the Yule candle ahead of Father Christmas, played by Ted Young.

The Rev. Dr. Randall Day, priest and rector of St. Mark’s, welcomed the congregation and explained the meaning of the festival.

“We gather this evening for an enjoyable celebration of the birth of Jesus at the end of this Christmas season, marked by the Feast of the Epiphany. The traditional English boar’s head dates back to the 1300s in Queen’s College, Oxford. Boars menaced villagers in Norman England; the serving of the boar symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The festival is held this year on The Feast of the Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, the day the Three Kings are said to have arrived in Bethlehem,” said Rev. Day.

He then told the story of the origin of Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, based on a real fourth-century bishop and saint, Nicolas of Myrna.

“Father Christmas is here to remind us that the real Santa Claus was a saint who loved Jesus and did good and unusual things, because of this love,” he said.

As the congregation sang “Angels We Have Heard on High,” a dozen or so little angels, sheep and shepherds walked up the aisle and seated themselves at the altar.

Rev. Day then read from Matthew telling the story of the three Magi who followed a star to Bethlehem bringing the newborn baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

While the congregation sang “We Three Kings,” the three kings played by Ron Roark, Brooks Firestone and Chris Urquidez arrived bearing gifts.

The Central Coast Pipers and Drums march up the aisle playing a traditional Christmas carol, welcoming guests to the start of the festivities.

Then Rev. Day spoke of the Good King Wenceslas, played by Shaun Cassidy, who along with his page, played by Caleb Cassidy, recognized the need of a poor person, played by Roan Cassidy, and responded to that need.

The time had arrived for the feast to begin, but not before the arrival of The Ruler of Misrule, played by Alicia Kerish Thomas, who shook her bells and waved her wand, interrupting the event with wild comments and questions. She was invited to join the guests at dinner and the Steward of the Feast, Linda Burrows, beckoned the Boar Bearers to carry the boar’s head down the aisle as the congregation sang the “Boar’s Head Carol.”

Everyone then proceed to Stacy Hall to enjoy more fun and a feast of pork, potatoes, red cabbage, apple sauce and salad along with wine or beer and a plethora of desserts.

The evening closed with the annual singing of “Silent Night.”