Sunday, January 03, 2016

Any Mummers in the Night?

This morning I will speak about the Christmas season, which is twelve days in duration, not just a splash on Christmas Eve. This year we actually have two Sundays during those twelve days, so this gives me the opportunity to address what Christmas means beyond the strange mixture of nostalgia and buying frenzy.

I will mention the Newfoundland tradition of mummering, an odd and cheerful excuse for revelry and drinking which has its roots in Ireland. Mummering still had some energy in the outports I served 35 years ago. Folk would dress up, go door-to-door, hoping to confound neighbours who knew their voices and quirks. This 500-year-old practice has almost disappeared in the province, as it has in its country of origin, but apparently it is being revived with an annual Mummering Festival in St. John's.

I wish that we could revive the Christian season of Christmas, as an antidote to the commercialism and secularization of what really is a wondrous celebration of the Incarnation. There is always hope!


Laurie said...

Still one of my favourite Christmas Eve services you did at St. Paul's. It was the first service that I heard you preach. I was impressed enough to come back the next Sunday! I have experienced Mummers in Northern England around New Years time there. People dress up and visit the pubs. Lots of guessing who people are and lots of fun.

laura mcclelland said...

We have a mummer ornament on our tree, from our summer trek to Nfld. I had recalled you talking of this tradition. (it is also referenced in a kids book we have called The 12 Days of Christmas in Canada in the second verse with "on the second day of Christmas my cousin gave to me 2 mummers masks".

Memorable moment of Christmas season happened for me while visiting an elderly friend in mid November. The tv was in in a nearby room and we could hear an ad urging us to "get shopping". I sighed and commented to the weeks of retail that seem to lead up to, and often outshine this one holy day. My wise companion didn't disagree on the commercialism piece, or even on the one day versus 12, but firmly said, "My dear, Christmas is not one day. It is my whole life."

David Mundy said...

Great to hear from both of you, Laurie and Laura. And delightful responses. I assure you that despite some recycling of concept there was plenty of new material in what I said Sunday!