The Mummer’s Walk was initially held in Flower’s Cove on December 29th, 2010. This event was created from dialogue between local Anchor Point native Sabrina Gaulton and I to encourage locals to continue our valued traditions. It was always a goal that this would lead to an annual event and also include a mummer’s dance and a night of mummer in each community.
The Flower’s Cove event was well received and much fun. It included a walk, some dancing at the Lion’s Club and a few treats of hot chocolate, purity syrup and some jam jams. The tradition continued to Anchor Point in 2011, where my friends from Switzerland and Germany also got to participate in our rural tradition. It was a windy day, but still kids and adults alike dressed up and enjoyed the event. In 2012, the festivities were held at Savage Cove, which drew more than 40 mummer’s, nearly doubling past events. Also, there was a Mummer’s Dance held too!
This year we are excited to announce the annual event will take place at the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club on 29th of December at 2:30 PM. Young and old are encouraged from all communities to come out and show your traditional spirit to join the merry band of mummers.
Come big ones, come small ones, come tall ones and thin, boys dressed as women and girls dressed as men…
Live Rural NL –Christopher 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 act of mummering actually comes from Rome, which is an awfully long way from Newfoundland & Labrador. The tradition was picked up in Great Britain, a tiny bit closer. It was adapted as one of earliest customs, dating back to the time of the earliest settlers who came to our land from England and Ireland.
Sometime during the twelve days of Christmas, usually on the night of the “Old Twelfth”, People would disguise themselves with old articles of clothing and visit the homes of their friends and neighbors. They would even cover their faces with a hood, scarf, mask or pillowcase to keep their identity hidden. Men would sometimes dress as women and women as men. They would go from house to house. They usually carried their own musical instruments to play, singing and dancing in every house they visited. The host and hostess of these ‘parties’ would serve a small lunch of Christmas cake with a glass of syrup or blueberry or dogberry wine. All mummers usually drink a Christmas “grog” before they leave each house. (Grog-a drink of an alcoholic beverage such as rum or whiskey.)
When mummers visit, everyone in the house starts playing a guessing game. They try to guess the identity of each mummer. As each one is identified they uncover their faces, but if their true identity is not guessed they do not have to unmask.
For a time the old tradition of “Mummering”, or “Jannying” as it is sometimes called, seemed to fade, especially in the larger centers of Newfoundland. However, thanks to the popular musical duo, Simini, who wrote and recorded “The Mummer’s Song” in 1982, mummering has seen a revival. Many people young and old look forward to dressing up at Christmas, knocking on a friend’s door and calling out “ANY MUMMERS ALLOWED IN?” (Here is a video of the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8OPy7De3bk and the song with photos at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzJW65XwKPY)
Mummering enables adults to act like kids again. They get all dressed up so that no one knows them and do crazy things. They tell all kinds of fibs, change their voice and act out of the norm! They play with water and make amess on the kitchen floor with their snow covered boots. They dance and sing silly songs. They come crashing down to real life, though, when someone guesses whom they are and they have to take off their masks. While the fun is not over, now they have to behave like adults again.
So when you’ve opened all your presents and you’ve eaten your turkey dinner, you probably feel that Christmas is over. But here in Newfoundland, the most easterly province in Canada, the fun is just starting, for the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 26 to January 6) is the time we’ll be mummering. You can watch for us, but you won’t know who we are!
Mummering in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador, has grown in popularity during the summer season, noting appearances as we promote “Christmas in July” for those who come from away. There is an opportunity to share this experience with others as demand for experential tourism increases as more urbanites yearn for all things rural.
Eagerly awaits for Christmas in July –