Calling all janneys, wren boys and Nalujuks

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First Folklife Festival centres on mummering tradition

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is inviting everyone who is available to head out and join in the city's first mummers parade Sunday, Dec. 20.

The parade will be the culmination of The Mummers Festival, the first annual Folklife Festival of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Traditional mummers are seen participating in a variety of activities from across the province. - Submitted photo by Ryan Davis

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is inviting everyone who is available to head out and join in the city's first mummers parade Sunday, Dec. 20.

The parade will be the culmination of The Mummers Festival, the first annual Folklife Festival of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The festival has already begun and runs through to the big finale parade day. The festival includes panel talks on mummering, mummering plays, mummering workshops and the parade - a chance to try mummering for yourself.

The mummering tradition has been used as the focus of the first Folklife Festival, but next year's Folklife Festival could be focused on anything from boat building to bonfires, said the Heritage Foundation's Intangible Cultural Heritage development officer Dale Jarvis.

Jarvis said the idea of having an annual festival highlighting a new element of the Newfoundland and Labrador folklife each year was to show their complexity of our folklore and encourage its continuation and growth.

The idea comes down to three concepts: education, celebration and preservation.

The Mummers Festival kicked off Nov. 26 with the launch of "Hark, What's the Noise?" an art and craft exhibition based around the mummering tradition. The exhibition is located at the Heritage Art Gallery (at 309 Water Street, second floor).

The mummering tradition varies from one area to another, including janneys, ribbon fools, wren boys and Labrador's Nalujuks, among others, Jarvis said.

"That's something that we actually want people to know more about ... It does really vary community to community."

Jarvis said he hopes to see some of the differences in the tradition displayed at the finale parade.

"We would love to see people dress up as they dressed up in their communities, if they are in St. John's from another community," Jarvis said. "Though we'd also love people to get a group of friends and come together with a theme."

Ryan Davis is completing an internship with the Heritage Foundation and built the website for the current festival while assisting in co-ordinating festival events with sponsors like The Rooms and Memorial University.

"I want to reserve at least a little time so I can take part in the parade," Davis said. "I actually just built myself a hobby horse for it."

Davis said he expects to see a wide variety of creative costuming at the parade. "It's a free-for-all really. This is an experiment in a way, to see how people are going to interpret mummering."

The parade event begins with a lineup at 1 p.m. at MacPherson Elementary and will run on portions of Merrymeeting Road, Bonaventure Avenue and Hayward Avenue, before ending at The Rooms.

One and all are encouraged to participate in all festival events.

All participants in the parade are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Community Food Sharing Association.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

WWW Weblinks www.mummersfestival.ca




MUMMERS IN TORONTO

Not connected with the Folklife Festival, mummering in this province inspired a new theatrical work in Toronto, celebrating the "Newfoundland mummer tradition of door-to-door entertainment and socializing during the Christmas season."
The show, with a traditional name, "The Mummers' Masque," is a mix of music and theatre, which ran Dec. 3 to Dec. 6 at Victoria College Chapel at the University of Toronto St. George campus on Queen's Park Crescent.
Directed by Derek Boyes with musical direction by Larry Beckwith, the show included vocal soloists, a children's chorus and a band of musicians with pipes and pennywhistles, fiddles and accordions.
More information is available through the homepage for Toronto Masque Theatre or by calling 1-416-410-4561.
Source: www.torontomasquetheatre.co

Organizations: Victoria College Chapel, Heritage Foundation, Folklife Festival of Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Art Gallery The Rooms and Memorial University Community Food Sharing Association University of Toronto St. George Toronto Masque Theatre

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, 309 Water Street, TORONTO St. John's Merrymeeting Road Bonaventure Avenue Hayward Avenue

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  • Blair
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    This is the best idea I've heard in a while. Mummering is such an important part of our Christmas culture and it would be a shame if our young people weren't exposed to it.

  • aubrey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Very creative .It gives us an idea for our Central Nl Multicultural Society .

  • Blair
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    This is the best idea I've heard in a while. Mummering is such an important part of our Christmas culture and it would be a shame if our young people weren't exposed to it.

  • aubrey
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Very creative .It gives us an idea for our Central Nl Multicultural Society .