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Boar’s Head Dinner goes back to 16th century for one night

December 1, 2017
singers in costume carrying food at Boar's Head DinnerStudents from the a cappella ensembles present the feast at the 83rd Boar's Head Dinner. (University of Rochester photos / Susan Ziegler '19)

Members of the University community stepped back in time Thursday evening—500 years, to be exact.

Feldman Ballroom in Douglass Commons was transformed into a 16th century English court for the annual Boar’s Head Dinner, a University tradition since 1934. Nearly 500 people attended, many clad in medieval costumes, and the menu included roast pork loin, turkey, pumpkin and lemon bisque, butternut squash and sage gravy, golden raisin and apple stuffing with sourdough bread, berry crumb cake, and apple cider.

The banquet was inspired by a 16th-century Oxford University legend in which a student walking through the woods was attacked by a wild boar and saved by a fellow scholar who thrust a copy of Aristotle’s work down the boar’s throat.

The banquet was instituted by the College to celebrate the triumph and survival of the students and has been held every year since 1934 except 1943 to 1945, when it was suspended due to World War II.

The dinner starts with a trumpet fanfare and an introduction of the Highe Table. Student a capella and theater-based groups also perform.

Matt Burns, dean of students, made his 15th consecutive appearance Thursday.

“There’s a certain satisfaction one gets from carrying on a tradition that’s been in place since 1934,” he says. “It’s also fun and collegial, and presents an opportunity for us to not take ourselves so seriously before the stress of finals and the end of the semester is upon us.”

Each year, a student organization wins the Boar’s Head award for having the greatest impact on student and community life at Rochester. Last year’s winners, the Douglass Leadership House, presented the award this year to the Pact. A new organization founded in 2016, the Pact is a mentorship program that pairs a University undergraduate student with a local high school student for weekly mentoring sessions that emphasize the values critical to success: persistence, optimism, and independence.

Jugglers in costume

The Strong Jugglers perform during the feast.

roasted boar's head is served

The annual “reading of the boar” tells the tale of the scholar who slew a boar through his love of learning. Each year the tale takes on a different twist.


Dean Matt Burns next to ice sculpture of boar

Dean of Students Matt Burns attends the Boar’s Head Dinner each year.

Group of students speak behind a podium behind an ice sculpture that reads BLACK LIVES MATTER

Last year’s Boar’s Head Award-winning organization, the Douglass Leadership House, passes the award on to this year’s winners, the Pact.

group of students holding an award plaque

Members of the Pact with this year’s award, presented to a student organization at the Boar’s Head Dinner each year.

two students in medieval dress

Student Association president Jordan Smith ’18 and vice president Becca Mooney ’18 pose in full medieval dress.





Category: In Photos

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