An ancient tradition made modern

Seventy people in full costume, plus a full choir, are planning to gather on stage at St. Luke's Episcopal Church for singing and pageantry in the Boar's Head and Yule Log Pageant to celebrate an ages-old story.

As the legend goes, said pageant co-director John Cramer, a scholar was walking through the woods to get to his studies at England's Queen's College when he was attacked by a wild boar.

"A boar, at the time, was the most ferocious animal in the forest because of its tusks," Cramer explained. "Even an armed knight would have a hard time against the savage boar. The boar became the symbol for evil or the devil."

When the man was attacked, he happened to be carrying a large book, "perhaps a Bible," Cramer said. The story goes the student killed the boar with it and took the beast's head back with him to the college to celebrate the triumph.

"This happened to be around Christmastime and since the symbol of evil was slain, it was a logical connection of Christ being born to destroy the power of Satan," Cramer said. "The church incorporated it immediately."

Sequim first held the event in 1996, after a couple that had relocated from the East Coast thought it would be a good addition to town.

"Different scenes are depicted," Cramer said. "The (play) moves in from secular carols to familiar Christmas carols."

He added that many of the dozens of performers are not members of St. Luke's Church.

"We've drawn on people who are interested in the pageant, particularly those who have some musical ability," said Cramer, who co-directs the event with his wife, Nanette. "It starts out with a certain lighthearted, jocular type of celebration and about a third of the way in it kind of changes to the Christmas motif."

The Cramers encourage the community to attend the pageant, which runs twice on Jan. 6, and although organizers recommend reserving tickets, the event is free.

"It's St. Luke's gift to the community," Cramer said.

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