Most readers know by now I have an exquisite love and passion for the tradition of mummering or as we always called it growing up – jannying. I continue the tradition each year, as well with a friend co-organized for five consecutive years a mummer’s walk in the Straits.
I have numerous mummer ornaments that include those handmade hooked-mat ones, clay to those store coming from St. Anthony, Roddickton-Bide Arm, Woody Point, King’s Point, Lord’s Cove, Flower’s Cove and places in between. I would like to see Glacier Glass of Englee, NL produce specialty “Mummer Pieces” for this years holiday season.
I’ve seen more locally produced Mummer memorabilia, but they too compete with mass produced products from China. I much prefer my crybaby size mummer doll made in Roddickton-Bide Arm or the four mummers with the knitted sweaters I bought at St. Anthony Come Home Year 2012, which were made in Goose Cove. It is also where I got my miniature ugly stick too!
I love my new mummer’s stein, which makes a happy pair if one wanted to have a drink of ale with a friend. The charms are a nice compliment when sharing a glass of wine or hosting a tasting. My new ornaments from this Christmas are hung on my tree, the Simini singing ornament, granny, the old stove and the checkered top hat mummer playing the fiddle. I really love that one! Finally, one can curl up to the cozy traditions of a throw that depicts the unique sounds of Newfoundland & Labrador. It truly is part of any band of mummer’s attire, an accordion, fiddle, ugly stick and a set of spoons.
Thank you to all for the lovely gifts, they had added to my traditional Newfoundland & Labrador Christmas tree and made the spirit of Christmas mummering that much more enjoyable!
Let’s keep celebrating traditions that have lasted through the centuries.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Straits Mummer’s Walk started in 2010, when my friend Sabrina and I talked about how much we loved mummering and how the tradition was losing ground since when we were teenagers. She proposed a walk and we began the organization that December and chose the 29th as the official day of the mummer. The event was planned for our administrative hub in Flower’s Cove. We were greatly impressed that 20 people had the interest on a bitterly cold December day to parade around the Town.
Our goal always has been to increase awareness and encourage more mummering at the households. In 2011, at Anchor Point two mummer’s joined us from Switzerland and Germany to learn the art of Christmas mummering. We also visited many households in Green Island Cove that year.
In 2012, Savage Cove produced the greatest number of mummers at 44. We were very pleased to see so many younger jannies participate. It was on a Saturday, but still bitterly cold.
In 2013, Green Island Cove was our venue with a crowd of jannies joining us from St. Lunaire-Griquet to bring our tally to 40. It was a very cold day, so we had a short parade route just using the lower road. It was quit the sight the community had not seen in years.
This year, the event was held in Sandy Cove on a Monday and brought out 30 mummers, one as far as Port Saunders. There were big ones and small ones and talls ones and thin. A truly wonderful collection of dress, demeanor and age groups. There are some mummers that come every year and always new ones. I love the influx of new mummers, when an event is held in their own community, but the regional spirit by having those of surrounding communities join in to make the event an even larger success.
A couple of tunes were played by Wilga Hughes of Green Island Brook from his accordion and the mummers danced. Then we all marched off to the church and returned to the Lion’s Club. The RCMP and Straits Fire Department were on the scene to ensure safety of our participants. I am very thankful to those volunteers who gave freely of their time for the Mummer’s Walk. After a return to the Lion’s Club, we had Purity Syrup, Hot Chocolate and a few treats. Prizes were drawn and a little music played. Everyone was in the spirit and a number of people went door-to-door mummering that night, at least that is what my Facebook feed had indicated as dozens of mummer’s have been popping up in communities from Anchor Point to Flower’s Cove to Sandy Cove to Green Island Brook and as far as Ship Cove and many places in between. It is exciting to see a resurgence and pride placed in keeping this Christmas tradition alive and well.
In recent years, I have seen more interest in the tradition from dances, more local visits and more memorabilia produced. Also this year, I was interviewed by Folklorist Dale Jarvis and photos and pieces of my contribution made print in the book, “Any Mummer’s ‘lowed in?” I encourage people to get a copy and give it a read, there is lots of talk of the Northern Peninsula Mummers or Jannies.
I look forward to getting better from this Christmas cold, so I too can join my friends and band about and visit in disguise before Old Christmas Night. I look forward to seeing the Jannies. Come one, come all!
Here is a link to our local paper the Northern Pen – Mummer’s on Parade: http://www.northernpen.ca/News/Local/2014-12-29/article-3991416/Mummers-on-parade/1
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Mummer’s Walk on the Great Northern Peninsula all started when two friends shared a conversation about their love for the tradition of mummering. The event was to be regionally focused, bringing together people from many communities to teach the younger generation a rural tradition cherished by those of our grandparents.
The first event started in Flower’s Cove (2010), then Anchor Point (2011), Savage Cove (2012), Green Island Cove (2013) and this year’s event will be in Sandy Cove. People will congregate at the Sandy Cove Lion’s Club anytime after 2 PM for the rig-up and the walk will begin at 2:30 PM. If past years are any indicator, it likely will be cold and may result in a shorter parade route. Festivities will continue after the walk at the Lion’s Club. This event is opened to all ages and everyone is invited to attend.
Let’s celebrate Mummering and make December 29th as the official day of the Mummer!
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North
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
Nearly forty mummers braved a -16 temperature with a wind chill that reached -31 to keep the tradition of mummering alive and well with the 4th Annual Mummer’s Walk at the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club.
Mummers came from near and far from communities of Anchor Point, Savage Cove, Flower’s Cove, Green Island Cove, Green Island Brook, St. Lunaire-Griquet and many citizens from surrounding communities visiting the Lion’s Club, such as Sandy Cove, Deadman’s Cove and even from mainland Canada to see what the Mummer’s Walk so all about and enjoy the fun!
The rig-up started shortly after 2 PM and just after 2:30 PM, Sabrina and I started the event noting the original idea of hosting a community event that would bring people together and would encourage more active mummering in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, especially since we remembered large groups of mummers from our childhood.
The first was held in Flowers Cove, followed by Anchor Point and last years was in Savage Cove.
This years event all started with the talented Way Brothers performed a couple of traditional tunes on the guitar and accordion, including the famous Simini tune, “The Mummer’s Song“.
The group broke out into dance on the floor. It was great to see such a crowd turn-out and participate in the Mummer’s Walk and a number of youth watching the festivities. These are the future generations to learn the tradition and pass them on.
Due to high wind we opted to get rides to the head of the Cove and walk back to the Lion’s Club. Some Mummer’s jumped in the pans of trucks and we were off…
The residents, especially seniors were perched at their windows anxiously waiting for the long line of mummers to pass by their homes.
They were people waiting in vehicles, residents waving from windows or door steps, excited to see the large group of mummers. A group this large, likely not seen for decades in the community of Green Island Cove.
The walk was a lot of fun. We would all return to the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club and have hot chocolate, Purity Syrup and Chocolates for a treat. It was a great time to mingle and talk about going mummering tonight or another in Christmas.
So if you hear knocks on your door, please let the friendly mummers into your home and enjoy the tradition that is forever in our hearts and souls, making rural Newfoundland and Labrador that perfect place to celebrate Christmas and the place we call home.
Below is a sampling of some other photos I managed at the event:
A big thank you to all who took the time to dress up and participate, the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club for providing the venue, all the visitors who came to the event and watch, Ryan and Monty for playing a couple of tunes, Loomis for coordinating music, logistics and bringing lots of spirit and to anyone else who helped in any way. I encourage you all to go Mummering this Christmas. I’ll be doing my part to continue to keep the tradition alive.
We’ll keep you all posted on the 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk in the New Year….
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- 4th Annual Mummer’s Walk Location and Date Announced (liveruralnl.com)
- Creative Christmas Floats at St. Anthony & St. Lunaire-Griquet Parades (liveruralnl.com)
- A Rural Newfoundland Christmas Tree – Salt Cod Drying on the Line (liveruralnl.com)