The word is used in Yorkshire, and applied especially to dishes made from the viscera of the pig. Christmas was formerly, as now, the principal season for pig-cheer.--T. Lewis Davies's Supplemental English Glossary, 1881
Christmas Boar's-Head Custom
At Queen's College, Oxford, the Boar's-head feast is still celebrated with accustomed ceremonial. The mythical origin of the custom is the story of a student of the college who was attacked by a wild boar while he was diligently studying Aristotle during a walk near Shotover Hill, some five hundred years ago. His book was his only means of defence, so he thrust the volume down the animal's throat, exclaiming, "Græcum est!" [Latin: "It's Greek!" -TG] The boar found Greek very difficult to digest, and died on the spot, and the head was brought home in triumph by the student. Ever since that date, a boar's-head has graced the college table at Christmas.--P.H. Ditchfield's Old English Customs, 1896
Y'know, it's stuff like this that makes me regret the paucity of my school experience. Primary schools in America are a frightful mess (which explains a lot of the idiocy that goes on here), and higher institutions aren't much better. I have a prized button in my collection that reads, "Don't let school interfere with your education."
There are very few universities in the U.S. that can even be thought of in vaguely the same league as Oxford; the only one that I even considered attending was UVA (the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville), founded by Thomas Jefferson. At the time, my high school chum David Covin was attending UVA and rather liked it, but the hand of fate or who-knows-what led me to choose Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. I'm glad I chose it, because that's where I met laurie_robey -- but that's another ramble all together.
The basic problem with my college experience was that I wasn't ready for it. Starting at age 16 didn't help, but that wasn't the problem; the problem was that I'd never had any real schooling before then to prepare me for the rigors of college. Getting good grades in high school was easy: show up, and listen in class. I don't think I ever got lower than a "C" in high school, and that was in the later classes of Latin, where I had no clue what I was doing.
I failed Latin in college. :-` Or maybe I failed German and got a D in Latin, I forget which now. Point is, what had been a breeze in high school was hard work in college, and I had no idea how to do it! So even if I had gone to a prestigious (and expensive) university, the time and money would have been utterly wasted. By the time I graduated, that had all changed -- I generally got high marks in my last two years, because I'd learned how to study by that point, and in fact I managed to escape with a cum laude. I sometimes resent it -- I could have had at least a magna cum laude and maybe even a summa if I hadn't been hamstrung at the beginning like that. But life is what it is, and there's no changing it now.
I do sometimes nurse the hope of going back to school and getting a postgrad degree, either a masters or possibly even a Ph.D. in English. (It would be pretty darn cool to be Dr. Robey.) I'm not sure what I'd do with it once I had it other than hang it on the wall, but it's something I'd want as an end to itself, perhaps to mitigate this gnawing regret I have about my schooling (and get rid of those damn dreams where it's the last day of the semester and I realize I've forgotten to attend some Tuesday/Thursday class).