SOMERVILLE, NJ – The audience at Sunday afternoon’s Boar’s Head Festival hosted by the United Reformed Church will recognize several cast members, including Mayor Brian Gallagher, who makes his theatrical debut in the Elizabethan-era production.

Garbed in a period costume, the mayor promises to complete the outfit with black tights, but only if he gets 100 “Likes” on his Facebook page:

He posted this challenge:

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“If we get over 100 likes, the tights go on!!!!”

All are welcome to come and revel in the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas, as was done in Elizabethan times. Music begins at 3:30 p.m., with the performance beginning at 4 p.m.

The church sanctuary will be transformed into an English manor with candlelight, banners, trees, and crests. The Lord and Layde of the manor will welcome guests to share in this festive celebration and the story of the Nativity.

Through pageantry and song, a cast of 125 characters in in Elizabethan and Biblical costumes, including Gallagher and Luc Sergile, a member of the Board of Education, will present vocal and instrumental music including handbells, bag pipes, drums, organ, brass quintet, and harpists. 

Cast members include members of United Reformed Church, Bernardsville United Methodist Church, Peapack Reformed Church, Westminster Choir College, Rutgers University, the Brass Quintet of Madison, Somerset County Police Pipes and Drums, and local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. 

 In medieval times, the boar was a symbol of evil, the “king” of the great forests, and a ferocious menacing animal to man. The presentation of the boar’s head at Christmas symbolized good over evil. The church endowed this custom with symbolic meaning, transforming it to the worship of God, and the triumph of Christ over evil.

The ceremony of the boar’s head became a part of Christmas celebrations in the great manors throughout the middle ages. It has become a popular Christmas tradition in Somerville.

The 2017 Twelfth Night Boar’s Head Festival is directed by United’s music director, F. Paul Dickey and Larry J. Carey, music director at Peapack Reformed Church.

There is no charge for admission but a freewill offering will be appreciated. 

To keep up with updates about the festival throughout the year, follow the Facebook page; facebook/urctwelfthnight.

United Reformed Church is located at 100 W. Main St.