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How The Saxons Gave Us The Hog Roast

When it comes to food stalls commonly seen at events or special occasions, few turn as many heads or bring as many smiles to people’s faces as a hog roast.


With the simplicity of perfectly roasted pork, crackling, apple sauce and stuffing on a thick barm cake, hog roasts deeply appeal in almost the opposite way to complex hors d'oeuvres.


Whilst the last few decades have seen a resurgence in hog roasts at events, the idea of marking celebrations with roast pork is far from new and could date as far back as the end of the Roman Empire.


From the end of Roman Britain circa 410 AD until the seventh century, the Anglo-Saxons started to move to Great Britain and fundamentally changed how British people lived their lives, including their own language, culture and traditions.


One of these was Yule, the feast celebrating the goddess Freyja, and the animal most associated with her was the wild boar, particularly the golden-haired Gullinbursti.


Because of this, during Yuletide, a wild boar (or sonargǫltr) would be roasted and eaten by guests at the feast as a sacrifice, with the head, in particular, being particularly prized and reserved for the guest of honour.


This is also the reason why so many banquets that take place at Christmas also serve a boar’s head with an apple in its mouth.


As well as this, people taking part in the Yule celebrations would swear a solemn oath on the bristles of the boar, which itself may have been a precursor to the idea of the new year’s

resolution.


Similar traditions still take hold, such as how cakes shaped like pigs are eaten around Christmas in Sweden.


Regardless, even as the influence of the Anglo-Saxons waned, the tradition of a roast pig has endured ever since, partly due to tradition but mostly due to taste.

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