Donny Dunphy is quite iconic with his jib rap, videos and musical performances. Him and Brenda have left an impression on myself and friends that lead to rounds of laughter when their names come up. He is quite the entertainer and I am the owner of his CD. My friend’s red hair reminds me of the strands sported Donny Dunphy. However, he is what we refer to as a Mummer or Janny.
The concept of Christmas mumming has a long rooted tradition in our province, especially rural Newfoundland & Labrador. During the 12 days of Christmas it was not uncommon to see the janny’s or the mummers come knocking at the doors asking “Any Mummer’s ‘lowd in?”
The jannies are getting ready?
Can you guess which one I am? I was even able to fool my grandmother this time around.
We started off with just four, visiting family, neighbours and other residents of the community. Each house a guessing game was played, dancing around to music was prominent and even a resident pulled out the accordion and played the Mummer’s Song! As we moved along from house to house we added to our group to double in size to 8! A happy gang of merry mummers bringing smiles to the faces throughout the households, with maybe the exception of a couple of small children.
It is important to hold onto parts of culture and heritage that one feels is important to their upbringing. I will not forget the impact of mummers on my life some two decades ago. Since I was a child I’ve been introduced to the concept of mummering and firming believe it must continue. I did an interview with the Northern Pen Newspaper expressing these experiences. So each Christmas let us all make a concerted effort to keep this deep-rooted tradition alive and well in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
For those of you wondering, which mummer I am, well, I am the one with the hump!
Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- Watch the iconic Land and Sea mummers show (cbc.ca)
- Hundreds of mummers parade in St. John’s (cbc.ca)
- A Swiss, German and Rural Newfoundlander Re-united for the Holidays. (liveruralnl.com)