Mummering is an old Christmas tradition (also known as “janneying”) predominant in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s mostly outlawed now, but I know some rural communities still participate among friends and family.
The whole affair is supposed to be a lively, fun celebration…but some texts allude to a mischievous side of Mummering in the past as well. Whatever the case, this year’s parade was another hit and a lot of fun, even if once again I missed the Rig-Up and ended up not actually being in the festivities.
How to be a Mummer
1. Dress up in ridiculous fashion to become completely disguised. Nobody should be able to guess your gender. Some fashion tips: wear a huge, grandmother’s bra outside a plaid work jacket; place a lace doily over your face; stuff the ass of your pants with fabric; carry an Ugly Stick; wear a toque.
2. Go around your community armed with accordions and other musical instruments, and knock on neighbour’s doors while shouting, “ANY MUMMERS ‘LOWED IN?” The correct way to speak like a Mummer, however, is to use an ingress of breath (i.e. speak while sucking in your breath, rather than blowing out).
3. Carry lots of alcohol.
4. Take over your host’s house, dancing jigs, playing a reel, and generally causing a ruckus. Lots of Purity syrup and Golden Wedding should be on hand.
5. Have the onlookers guess your identity.
You can imagine why this is illegal in some places, but I’ve never heard of any Mummering stories gone wrong (correct me if I’m lying). It’s Newfoundland, after all, and it’s likely if you go into someone’s home and torment the hell out of a family, you’ll get chased from town.
In the meantime, enjoy these videos taken from the parade. Not sure what the drums have to do with anything, but it works.
(It gets intense at the end.)
(The real kind of reel you’d be dancing to.)