Mummer’s Festival – let them all in!

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A long time ago I did a folklore course at Memorial University.  It was one of those courses which is sometimes seen as an easy A, and then the reality sets in … they actually have to use their brain.

It was a class devoted to the Folklore of Newfoundland and Labrador, we learned history and methods of interviewing, songs and stories.  I LOVED it, it was amazing to me that some people get paid to do this for a living!  it’s like living as a rockstar, an academic rockstar – but a rockstar all the same.

Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or folk life studies in Britain, is the formal academic discipline devoted to the study of folkloreFolklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group

Recently there was an article, by Elizabeth Whitten in the Overcast about mummering, and it brought back all the feels.  It focused more on the history of the Mummers Festival – an annual parade of people dressed as mummers.  It’s a wonderful spectacle, full of young, old, locals and people who haven’t the faintest what a mummer is.

photo: Elizabeth Whitten, circa 2015 Mummers Parade
Photo: Elizabeth Whitten, circa 2015 Mummers Parade

Inspiration

Reading Elizabeth’s article I felt a certain need to put on a tea beard and Nan’s bra over my Dad’s wood cutting coat.  It brought back memories of sneaking downstairs well after bedtime to watch the grown-ups in this intricate dance of taboo and tradition.

The 10th Anniversary of the Mummer’s festival is the 13th.  I’m so excited to go and be apart of this magic.  If you too are planning your ‘get up’ and soaking the tea already – take a look at the tips the Festival committee put together:

Tips For Parade Mummers

We need YOU in your most creative mummers gear! This is a participant-driven event. The Mummers Parade is open to interpretation so your presence will add colour and shape the outcome. You make it what you want it to be. And anyone can join in! There are many ways for you to find your inner mummer. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Bring together a group of people you know and plan to join in the parade. This could include a group of friends, coworkers, family, community groups, etc. All groups of enthusiastic mummers are welcome.
  2. If pre-planning is not your style, come to our Rig Up before the parade starts and piece together a disguise on the spot. If you have a disguise already, you can still add a few finishing touches at the Rig Up. The atmosphere alone should entice you to come well before the parade starts.
  3. Bring your noisemakers! Music and sounds go great with parades. Make an ugly stick. Play a toy accordion or the real deal. How about a pot and a spoon? Or carry a boom-box with Simani’s “The Mummers Song” on a loop? Attend our Ugly Stick Workshop to make your own and join our Pot ‘n’ Pan Kitchen Jam to be a part of the noisemaker band.
  4. If you know any mummers out there, get them to teach you the ropes. Experienced mummer can give you good tips on how to dress, move, speak, and dance. Ask them the question, “So how do you mummer anyways?” They might teach you a thing or two. And while you’re at it, invite them to come along.
  5. Throw your own disguise-making event and invite your friends. Read the section on Mummering, Janneying & Guising to get a sense of what some mummers choose to wear. Visit our Mummers Festival Facebook group for some visual inspiration.
  6. Attend our hobby horse making workshops and gallop your way through the parade. Be a part of the oddest horse cavalry!
  7. Swirl and twirl as a multi-coloured Ribbon Fool! Make your own Ribbon Rig at one of our workshops.
  8. Make your own wren stick. Fly it high! 

Want to build a float? Go for it! But it cannot be motorized. This is a walking parade only. And build it sturdy (floats will need to be inspected by a parade marshal at least a half hour before the parade start).

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