The New Northeast

tracking the Spirit in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Brewer burns the greens

While the night may have been dark and moonless, the parishioners of St Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Brewer, went ahead with what is figured to be their Eleventh Annual Epiphany Burning of the Greens at the home of a church member in Holden. The greens had previously graced the interior of St. Patrick’s through Advent and Christmas.

Originally a Celtic custom, the Burning of the Greens and Epiphany celebrate the well-known Twelfth Day of Christmas, the day on which it’s believed that the Three Magi arrived in Bethlehem to pay tribute to the baby Jesus.

The Greens in this case certainly did “brighten the night” and provide a beacon in the darkness. The tree in the photo had recently emerged from a living room. It was saved until last, and blazed in spontaneous glory for about four minutes (Eastern Standard Time).

Once the blaze died down, the stalwart burners retreated to the warmth and comfort of the hosts’ kitchen for hot Wassail, finger foods, and Winter’s evening’s worth of camaraderie. The planning for next year’s burn is already in the works!

St. Luke’s in Wilton feasts for a good cause

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, Maine recently hosted the sixth annual Boar’s Head Feast in honor of the Epiphany of our Lord and for the benefit of the Franklin County Ecumenical Heating Assistance Fund on January 7th, 2011. The feast of roast pork with all the trimmings (including plum pudding) was presented by costumed servers while medieval music was provided by the Sytsma family utilizing authentic period instruments. Actor Michael Cooper and wife Susan entertained and the evening was capped off with an appearance by the Three Kings. The fundraiser made over $1,300 for the fund.

The history of the Boar’s Head Feast goes back to 1340 when legend had it that a scholar was studying a book of Aristotle while walking through the forest on his way to midnight mass. He was suddenly confronted by an angry wild boar, a public menace. Having no other weapon, the resourceful scholar rammed his book down the throat of the charging boar, thus choking the beast to death. The celebration of the Boar’s Head became a symbol of the triumph of the Christ child over sin, light over darkness and eventually included themes from the nativity, Epiphany and Twelfth Night celebrations.

St. Luke’s has enjoyed putting on the annual event, which requires participation by “practically everybody” in the parish, said Corey Walmer, house “manager” for the evening. “A crew removes the pews from the church, another sets the tables, others cook, serve, entertain and clean up.” “Besides being an effective fundraiser,” Walmer noted, “it has also become a wonderful opportunity for all of us to gather after the holidays and extend the season a bit longer; we have fun together and look forward to it all year long.” Plans are already in place for next year’s feast to be held on Friday, January 6, 2012.