Ticket sales are underway for the sixth annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival at Rockland Congregational Church, 180 Limerock St. Held at Epiphany, on the first weekend of the New Year, the festival is a re-enactment of ancient celebrations that marked the end of the 12 days of Christmas.

The 2011 Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 1 and 2. There will be two performances each day, at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Doors open a half hour earlier for the Renaissance pre-show, and a gala dessert reception follows each performance.

Tradition claims Epiphany as the time when the Magi offered their gifts to the Christ Child. In medieval England, this religious festival was recognized by revels in the manor hall and the presentation of a wild boar’s head, which came to symbolize Christ’s triumph over Satan.

The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is staged in the church’s spacious sanctuary, which is decorated in the beginning as the Manor House. Arriving guests are greeted with music and offered sweetmeats.  The Herald proclaims the entry of the Boar’s Head, carried in triumph by the Beefeaters, and a procession of cooks and staff brings forth the great feast.  Dancers from the Rockport Conservatory of Dance entertain the Royal Court. Carolers arrive to wish all well; King Wenceslas and his pages remind everyone to help those in need; and woodsmen with the yule log, which represents the rekindling of love. The lights dim and the hall transforms into a cathedral for the worship as the holy family arrives, followed by shepherds, magi and animals. When all have assembled, they kneel in adoration. The ceremony closes as a small child in the role of the yule sprite, accompanied by a cleric of the church, carries forth Christ’s light to all people.

Throughout the performance, music by the Midcoast Brass Quintet; the Chancel Choir and handbell ringers of Rockland Congregational Church; and vocal and instrumental soloists, with singing by the  congregation, is enhanced by Richard Einsel at the organ. With a large costumed cast drawn from the Midcoast community, dancers, live animals from Zabby’s Traveling Farm Animals and Ridge Mist Llamas, choirs and musicians, the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival offers a glorious way to close the holiday season.

General admission seats are $10; reserved numbered seats on both sides of the center aisle are $15. To purchase tickets, call the office of Rockland Congregational Church at 594-8656. Major credit cards are accepted. All proceeds after expenses will benefit the assistance programs of Area Interfaith Outreach.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.