A Local Christmas Tradition

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. mummer

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:






5 thoughts on “A Local Christmas Tradition

  1. Haha that tradition is hilarious! I’ve never heard of it before. My town doesn’t really have a Christmas tradition (except for televised Christmas carols, and driving around the neighbourhood looking at decorated houses). I guess you learn something new everyday! =D

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds great. I’ve wanted to visit Newfoundland ever since I discovered the music of Great Big Sea around 2004. I’m a little hesitant to say this to a real Newfoundlander, because you’re probably going to roll your eyes and say that there’s so much more to your home than what you hear about in a few folk songs… I have the same reaction when I hear of outsiders whose entire perception of my home (California) comes from movies and TV, because the state is a lot more diverse than the beaches and million-dollar hillside mansions everyone associates with it. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Big ate so nice to hear. It’s great that you have a interest in our lovely little province. And great big sea sums up newfoundland culture in many ways. I hope you do get to visit some day. It really is a interesting place to see 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That tradition sounded strange at first but not really – different cultures just put a spin on similar customs. We used to have a costume festival at Christmas in Jamaica too but over the years, it’s phased out somewhat.
    Thanks for the nomination. The Christmas blogging looks fun so i’ll try it – do I start now with Day One?

    Liked by 1 person

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