One may typically walk through the doors of Douglass Dining Hall expecting to Club his or her usual homemade chicken salad sandwich with extra pickles on the side… but not tonight! Tonight is the night UR transforms this ordinary dining hall into a place of the past for the annual Boar’s Head Dinner.
‘I tried looking for some semblance of what Douglass used to look like before the transformation, but for the life of me couldn’t find it,” senior Elise Welton said. Welton will be returning for the second time to the annual dinner. Tonight, from 7 to 9 p.m. will be the University’s 74th-annual Boar’s Head, and the excitement among faculty and students can be felt throughout campus.
In case any one is confused as to why there would be such a night centered on a boar’s head, there is actually a lot of history behind it all. The custom dates back to the latter part of the Middle Ages, when elaborate feasts were the style, and feasts around the holidays were always the most prolific. The boar’s head was always necessary and was the first course brought out. Since 1934, UR has chosen to make this a tradition of its own by holding the winter feast right before its month-long recess.
‘The Boar’s Head Dinner is one of the University of Rochester’s longest-standing traditions,” junior Rebecca Schubmehl, co-chair of this year’s event along with junior Shekhar Gadkaree, said. ‘The tickets for this year’s event sold out in less than an hour.”
An evening of usually over 600 guests comprised of both faculty and students would seem to always be an unforgettable experience. The ceremony begins with the introduction of the attendees, followed by the University’s very own Strong Jugglers giving a 15-minute performance, decked out in traditional costumes.
Next, probably what is the most elaborate school-sponsored meal of the year is brought out to feast on. Each course is carried to the tables as the Renaissance-dressed student waiters and waitresses sing several different festive songs. members of Off Broadway on Campus, Vocal Point, After Hours, the Midnight Ramblers and the Yellowjackets, who serenade diners as they serve each course of the incomparable meal.
The menu for this year, fairly consistent with that from previous years, features local dinner rolls, vegetable soup, roast pork, roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, two types of gravies, organic cider and delicious apple tarts for dessert.
‘I’ve had the privilege to both dine and perform in it,” senior Eric Campbell, a member of OBOC, said. ‘It’s such a stress-relieving function to go to; being there with all of your friends and forgetting that exams are around the corner for a couple of hours totally replenished my batteries.”
In addition, every year a special faculty member gives his or her rendition of the traditional tale of the boar. This year, diners will have the privilege of hearing remarks from Professor of Religion and Classics Douglas Brooks.
‘The guest speaker, this year my honor, is something of a roast, meant to celebrate, entertain and incur some mirth,” Brooks said. ‘Last year, the brilliant Professor Anthea Butler did a rap that brought the house down. My own talk this year will be a sort of Bill Maher take of New Rules about our venerable UR traditions I promise no one will be spared, including myself.”
Finally comes the traditional passing of the boar’s head to a particular student group that promotes student life on campus. The group from last year, the Campus Times, will present the boar’s head to this year’s outstanding group.
‘It’s also a nice slice of tradition,” Campbell said. ‘And, as an added bonus, the food is awesome!”
It appears that the attendees have had memorable of experiences at the University’s annual Boar’s Head Dinner, and this year’s dinner should certainly create just as many lasting memories.
Greenberg is a member of the class of 2009.