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mummering

visiting neighbours at Christmas time

TRANSLATION

mummering = eine Hausbesuchstradition zu Weihnachten

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“Troupes of mimes and acrobats, musicians and MUMMERS were common in early modern Europe.”

A. O. Scott, New York Times - The Return of the Artistic Company

Did you
know?

mummering
verb

- a Christmas-time house-visiting tradition in parts of Canada, U.S.A, and Ireland.

Mummers
collective noun

- one who goes merrymaking in disguise during festivals


ORIGIN

Mummering, originally a pagan tradition, involves groups of friends or family dressing up in disguise and visiting homes within their community during the twelve days of Christmas.

If the mummers are welcomed into a house, they often do a variety of informal performances that may include dance, music, jokes, or recitations. The hosts must guess the mummers’ identities before offering them food or drink. They may poke and prod the mummers or ask them questions.

To make this a challenge for the hosts, the mummers may stuff their costumes, cross-dress, or speak while inhaling (ingressive speech). Once the mummers have been identified, they remove their disguises, spend some social time with the hosts, and then travel as a group on to the next home.

By Medieval times, mummering had turned into an excuse for people to go begging and even to commit crimes. Despite Henry VIII’s law threatening imprisonment for mask wearers, the practice persisted and children today still sing:

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,

  
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.”

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