Growing up we always referred to concept of mummering as jannying. I am not sure how it came about that we adopted the term “Mummer”. It may have had something to do with Simini’s iconic tune, “The Mummer’s Song” produced in 1984. It became a mega-hit and helped revive a dying tradition. One can hear the tune and watch a video of mummering that has more than 200,000 views.
Musicians and local artists have significant influence on popular culture and the way in which communities consume culture and local lore. Although the tradition of mummering is not as vibrant as it once was, I think it is one of those traditions that is here to stay in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, especially on the Great Northern Peninsula.
This Christmas we saw the jannies going around visiting at Christmas night! I have also seen multiple postings on Facebook highlighting janny visits, videos of people stepping ‘er down and enjoying the tradition. We have the opportunity to utilize the social media to share and encourage more active participation in a tradition that was once common for all ruralites to do during the holidays.
The jannies were here last night…
If you are interested in jannying this Christmas, there is still time! Tonight marks a couple of mummer’s dances at Thirsty’s Lounge and Flower’s Cove Lion’s Centre. As well, there are still two nights left to Christmas – so get your bed sheets, rubber boots and pillow cases ready! Keep up the tradition right up to Old Christmas Night.
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk Continues to Break Local Record (liveruralnl.com)
- It’s not Christmas without the Mummers Show (cbc.ca)
- My Newfoundland & Labrador themed Christmas Tree (liveruralnl.com)
- 3rd Annual Mummer`s Walk – December 28th (liveruralnl.com)
My father was a sealer. He would prepare the seal skins over a several week process, soak them in chopped pieces of bark and ensure they were tanned to perfection. It is more than 13 years later and I still proudly wear the seal skin boots made due to his hard work and dedication to the tradition.
In the photo above, I try on a seal skin vest. Although, it was not my size. As my mother would say, “you’ll have to eat a few more figgy puddings”. I did try on the seal skin belt, which fit perfectly. I could not resist but to purchase it. A number of people have since complimented me on it. This organization is evidence that there is a market for seal skin products and there always will be no matter how many countries that close their border to the import of this product.
Santa gave me a pair of seal skin slippers for Christmas. I have since purchased a second pair for the Office at the Confederation Building. This local social enterprise is ensuring that seal skin products remain a hallmark of our culture and tradition. I am looking forward to picking up my order next week as they have opted to make a custom skinny tie for me.
In 2011, I wrote a letter in retaliation of Ellen DeGeneres‘ stance on the seal hunt. I stand by that position. It is time for us to take control of our own destiny and depend less on the global market place to purchase our product but to focus on a co-op or social enterprise model that creates local jobs, teaches long-lived skills, pass on traditions and educate people of the economic and social benefits sealing has had to the people of the Great Northern Peninsula and other parts of Canada.
If you would like to find out more about GNP Craft Producers, visit http://www.gnpcraft.com.
Live Rural NL -Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
The Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive held on December 29, 2010 at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre is touted as a big success. The event started at 2:00 PM with mummers finding their way to the centre, dropping off food items for the Straits Food Sharing Association and ready to have fun.
A total of 20 people shared in the traditional spirit by taking time out of their day to partake in this regional community economic development (CED) activity by dressing up. The mummers along with many citizens showed their kindness by donating to their local food bank, which became the recipient of many staple items consisting of flour, sugar, cereals, can foods and other necessities. This comes at a time when food banks face severe shortages and are greatly needed.
Organizer’s Christopher Mitchelmore, Emerging Leaders co-Chair (Canadian Community Economic Development Network or cCEDnet) and cCEDnet Intern, Sabrina Gaultan decided it was well overdue to instill greater uptake, creating a rural revival of this once flourishing Christmastime tradition and support a worthwhile local cause. Christopher had noted that a community event around a revival of mummering should take place during the holidays. Some discussion led to a number of ideas, but with a very short time frame it was agreed to start with a small activity and enable it to grow. This led Ms. Gaultan to become very busy, as she created a visually appealing poster, handled necessary logistics by contacting local food sharing association, RCMP detachment and Lion’s Centre. In a short timeframe the marketing, location and partnerships were created. Rural regions can improve by becoming more organized. As residents, let us focus on unique traditions and plan more activities and events in our regions for all of us to enjoy. It all starts with an idea!
Local community leaders, volunteers and participants were discussing the potential for next year’s walk. The excitement was there to better promote and continue the Mummer’s Walk. It is very positive to see this type of outcome. Maybe 2011 will bring forth a Mummer’s Ball? There is all sorts of potential for this tradition to be revived. With the right partnerships formed our sense of community with continue to grow and prosper. I commend all those who actively participated, came to watch, donated food items, supported and helped in any way build on the spirit of our community and made this event a success! We look forward to what this year’s event will bring. Happy New Year to All!
The Holiday season is to be spent with loved ones. Sometimes they are not always with us in a physical sense, but are in our hearts.
This Christmas will be the 12th on celebrated without my father. He is still present and ever remembered. I will not forget all the times we would spend together searching for that freshly cut Christmas tree. My father would take extra care in trimming some of the branches. Not to mention drilling holes and filling spaces it branches. Our tree had to be very full of life! As a family we all had a part in the decorating. It was tradition. Over time that has changed as we have an artificial tree, which certainly does not have the same appeal but does the job. It is now my time to string the lights (something I never wanted to do as a child, guess it is part of growing).
I remember hanging lights outside. My father would give me the task of organizing all the lights, creating a pattern of red, green, yellow, blue. It was a challenge with all the bulbs that needed replacing and having to use a potatoe or vaseline sometimes to remove them. My father trusted me and as a team we would get those lights up all around the house. Last year I gave up on the old strings and started buying some LED lights (still multi-coloured, of course) and have added again this year. They are up hanging with plastic clips. I smile as there are remains of staples on some shingles (reminding me of assisting dad) .
We always delivered presents on Christmas Eve, ate pizza at my aunt and uncle’s house and went to church late at night before leaving milk and cookies for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer. Christmas morning after opening our presents would be spent with grandma and grandpa opening their gifts.
Times have changed as my mom usually works Christmas Eve, so I am typically tasked with delivering presents (sometimes with my sister). This year my aunt and uncle will spend Christmas Eve with their kids and grandkids away, so no pizza with them. It has been several years since we all attended church service or even spent Christmas together as a family. As well, my grandpa passed away this year.
This year 2010, my sister and her husband will be home for the holidays. For me it is my first time since 2006 and long overdue. We will create new traditions, while hanging on to some old ones, which include the lunch for Santa!
Think about your Christmas times with friends and families, old traditions and new ones! It is just two weeks and change away….so enjoy! Make new memories today, tomorrow and always.
From Live Rural NL – CCM
This summer I had the pleasure of meeting CURRA Researcher Pam Hall. She is a remarkable individual with adept artistic talent and her initiative will help us all continue to experience and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
The following article is being distributed from “The Western Shorefast Fall 2010″ Newsletter:
My [Pam Hall's] PhD research explores art as a form of making and moving knowledge. Traditionally, we have seen science as the main and often the only source of knowledge in western society, and my research will work to expand, deepen and make visible many others forms of knowledge that have been undervalued and consequently under-used. My work with CURRA will involve a major collaborative creative project that will take place in communities throughout Bonne Bay and the Great Northern Peninsula. It is called Towards an Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge and hopefully will include participants from school children to elders, who will share their own knowledge to be included in the Encyclopedia.
Often, we think of “knowledge” in narrow ways that exclude many kinds of knowing and many kinds of knowers; my work as a scholar and an artist begins with the assumption that everyone knows something interesting and important about where they live and how they live there. My goal is to make that knowledge visible so it can be shared and used within and beyond the communities where it emerges.
Even children “know things” about their homes and communities, whether it be which are the fastest paths home or where there are good places to hide or where important things happened. Fishers and hunters know a lot about their local ecology but also about how to make things, find things, or interpret the weather. Some women know not just where to find berries, but how to preserve them: some know not just who their relatives are, but where they came from, and what their ancestors did in previous generations. Schoolteachers, convenience store workers, grandparents, mechanics, teenagers, union officials, waitresses, nurses, fishers, truck drivers, and carpenters, ALL have particular ways of knowing their place and know particular things about it.
Everyone has some expert knowledge and Towards an Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge will gather ecological, social, historical, technical, material and cultural knowledge from voluntary “experts” up and down the west coast of the Province. It will build on, expand and extend some of the community-specific knowledge that already exists and make it visible, alongside new knowledge -so it can be shared and presented- honoured and celebrated.
Everyone who participates will be acknowledged as a co-author, and many kinds of traditionally “invisible” forms of knowledge will be included. For example, local and CURRA researchers have already begun to gather fishermen’s ecological knowledge (FEK), which, in the Encyclopaedia can be set beside I am excited to begin the search for women and men up and down the Northern Peninsula who will share their time and knowledge to help me create the Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge.For more information on my work as an artist, visit http://www.pamhall.ca and for more information, contact me directly at email@example.com.Pam Hall, CURRA
Yesterday, I stared out my kitchen window in awe at the magnificant sunset that was on the horizon overlooking the Strait of Belle Isle.
You see the kitchen brings me great comfort. If represents more than scents and smells, it has a childhood of memories of mother preparing a nice meal, baking my favourite banana bread, preserving berries, dates, beets or preparing homemade pickles.
I stopped to reflect for a moment, as I sipped tea out of Aunt Elsie’s cup (thanks again Melissa, it is surely a treasure and will get great use through the years) and put down my book, “Honorary Indian” by Sandi Boucher. This book has been uplifting, inspirational and attitude changing. I highly recommend it, if you would like to feel more positive, empowered, gain inner strengh or about life in general (www.sandiboucher.ca). Thank you Sandi! I just stared at the water, as the waves were silent.
Earlier that day I walked along the shoreline from each end of my community, stared and smiled. You see, I can just reach out and touch “the Big Land” Labrador and enjoy their lights every single night. I hear the waves crash when the wind blows, the icebergs as Spring breaks, whales, seals and seabirds visit frequently. Moreover, I hear the motors as fishing boats leave the wharf to attend their nets and secure their daily catch. It is quite magical to experience the life that exists from the water!
Today, I think of my father, my grandfather and their fathers before them…all made their living from the sea. We have much to be thankful for in my small community….as I go to bed each night and wake up each morning and look out the kitchen window, see the water and think…these are the kinds of things dreams are made from…
The water represents a special place in my heart, quite possibly all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I will not take such a treasure for granted.
Take time to find your special place and keep your dreams alive,