Mummers and the New Year

Mummers and the New Year

Happy New Year!  This morning, Philadelphians are watching the Mummers make their way through the streets.  “Mumming” is as old as Philadelphia (and much older) but the first city sponsored parade was in 1901.  Most visitors to Philadelphia on New Year’s seem confused by the spectacle, but to a Philadelphian, it wouldn’t be New Years without them.  It is the oldest folk parade in the country. The tradition of mumming comes to America from Europe where it began as a pagan tradition celebrating Yule and the winter solstice.  Men and women would exchange clothes, dance and put on performances or plays to gather a crowd.  Symbolic characters would assist in the plays, such as Father Christmas, with good and bad characters (always overacted) to make a spectacle.  The...