Newfoundland and Labrador folklorist Dale Jarvis has produced a book documenting a tradition that is very near and dear to my heart with his launch of “Any Mummers ‘lowed In?”
I first met Dale Jarvis in the summer of 2001 as a participant of Medquest. One of the activities on our list was the Haunted Hike http://www.hauntedhike.com/. These hikes take place between June and September and tell local tales and ghost stories that have quite an impact. It was actually where I met my friend, Amanda who celebrates today. Happy Birthday!
I’ve always had an interest in the concept of mummering or jannying since a very young age. As a young child, I would go door to door in disguise at Christmastime. This continued through the teenage and even today’s adult years. My major paper in Folklore 1000 was on Christmas Mummering and in 2010 my friend Sabrina and I co-founded the first ever Mummer’s Walk in the Straits at Flower’s Cove. It has continued each year at Anchor Point (2011), Savage Cove (2012) and Green Island Cove (2013). We have seen a revival in the region of mummering with more people going door to door, mummer’s dances, mummer crafts, memorabilia and other activities.
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Dale Jarvis in January of this year, as he was compiling stories, photos and information about mummering in preparation for his book. “Any Mummers ‘lowed in?” was officially launched on October 15th. It is amazing to see this work in printed form, as I received a copy as gift from my friend Krista for my birthday on the 23rd. I have only had the opportunity to read the first chapter, but have skimmed the book, peering at the variety of images, songs and took an interest in the section of the hobby horse. I look forward to reading it in its entirety.
My excitement was greatly peaked when I turned to page 4. I snapped a photo and sent a text to my cousin and said, “remember this?”. We were tiny mummers visiting the neighbours. I believe we told them we were from Sandy Cove or Green Island Brook depending on the house. Likely my mother had already called in advance letting them know we were on our way. The wonderful memories of growing up in Green Island Cove!
Throughout the book are a number of images of mummers of all ages over the years, including several from the Great Northern Peninsula that include our Mummer Walks and Dances.
I encourage people to get a copy of this wonderful book, just in time for the holidays! The book is a masterfully done in a way that preserves, shows an evolution of mummering and shares our local knowledge and culture of these centuries old tradition. If you would like to get a copy you can do so direct from Chapters/Indigo or Flanker Press on-line or purchase at many bookstores. Visit http://dalejarvis.blogspot.ca/ for more information about the author, book, up-coming signings and how to purchase.
One thing I’ve come to learn more recently from our interview is Dale Jarvis certainly is a mummering enthusiast, a hobby horse maker and a founding member of the 2009 Mummers Festival in St. John’s. We need others to share in our interest and encourage more active mummering. It truly is a tradition that has been around for as long as anyone in our rural outports can remember. This year I would like to announce that our 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk will be on December 28th at Sandy Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North