Day 8. It’s time to share a local Christmas tradition. And I must admit the one I am about to share sums up the hilariously, foolish and fun Newfoundland culture quite nicely.
Mummering… Yes and it is as foolish and fun as the word sounds.
This is a very very old Christmas tradition from England and Ireland, which consists of people dressing up in disguises and visiting neighbours homes for dancing and drinking. It may sound and look like some kind of odd Halloween tradition however it’s a beloved Christmas tradition. Mostly seen in the out-port communities in Newfoundland the first record dating back to 1819.
However on June 25, 1861, an “Act to make further provisions for the
prevention of Nuisances” was introduced in response to the death of Issac Mercer in Bay Roberts, NL. Mercer had been murdered by a group of masked mummers on December 28, 1860. The Bill made it illegal to wear a disguise in public without permission of the local magistrate. Mummering in rural communities continued despite the passage of the Bill, people would still visit neighbours but it would often be in the late night under the cover of dark, although the practice did die out in larger towns and cities.
In the 1980s, mummering was revived thanks to a popular song “The Mummer’s Song” in 1982. And in 2009, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador‘s Intangible Cultural Heritage office established what would become an annual Mummers Festival, culminating in a Mummers Parade in St. John’s. The success of the festival has influenced, in part, another revitalization and increase of interest in the tradition in the province.
So there you have it a beloved Christmas tradition from my hometown. If you ever come to Newfoundland during the Christmas season be sure to check out the Mummers festival for a good laugh.
Day 8 Nominations: