Regency Christmas Traditions: Boar’s Head and Brawn

Regency Christmas Traditons

Traditional foods are always important to a celebration. Every family and culture has particular dishes that speak of holidays. Festivities would be incomplete without them. Regency celebrants looked for the appearance of Boar’s Head and/or Brawn on the Christmas dinner table.

Boar’s Head and BrawnSchlammsuhlendes Wildschwein

Wild boar was the most feared animal. (Even today feral hogs cause much destruction and anxiety in modern neighborhoods.)  Its presence at a meal represented the victory of good over evil. Since wild boar became extinct in Britain during the 17th century a pig’s head was typically substituted.

The head was often brought in with theatrical relish, on a decorated platter, and apple stuffed into its mouth. Today’s tradition of serving ham for Bringing in the Boar's HeadChristmas dinner may be derived from serving boar’s head or roasted boar joints for Christmas dinner.

To make Sham Brawn. TAKE the belly piece, and head of a young pork, rub it well with salt-petre, let it lie three or four days, wash it clean; boil the head, and take off all the meat, and cut it in pieces , have four neat’s feet boiled tender, take out the bones, and cut it in thin slices, and mix it with the head, and lay it in the belly-piece, and roll it up tight, and bind it round with sheet-tin, and boil it four hours; take it up, and set it on one end, put a trencher on it within the tin, and a large weight upon that, and let it stand all night; in the morning take it out, and bind it with a fillet; put it in spring-water and salt, and it will be fit for use.

When you use it, cut it in slices life brawn. Garnish with parsley. Observe to change the pickle every four or five days, and it will keep a long time.~~From Hannah Glasse

 Read more about the traditional Christmas feast here.


Christmas Feast

Hale, Mrs. Sarah J. Morton M’michael And Louis A. Godey. Lady’s Book, Philadelphia: Louis A. Godey, Publishers’ Hall, Dec. 1860.

Jane Austen and Christmas: Mrs Musgrove’s Brawn

Glasse, Hannah. The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. (1784) London: Rundell, Eliza. A New System of Domestic Cookery. (1814)  

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    • Lisa H on December 18, 2015 at 9:00 am
    • Reply

    I am grateful I do not have to prepare this for Christmas dinner.

    • Susan S on December 19, 2015 at 1:24 am
    • Reply

    I Eason a cruise once where they served
    “boar’s head” for the New Year’s Eve
    buffet. I couldn’t even look at it let alone
    eat it, but the waiter kindly brought me
    some leftover fish for my dinner.

    • Sheila L. M. on December 25, 2015 at 10:40 pm
    • Reply

    Sorry, I am late reading this. Blame the season. I don’t know if my mind would let my stomach try this. But to each their own! Happy New Year to all.

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