Among the many traditions of the Celts_"Mumming" is one that dates back to pre-Christain,pre-Celtic,even early Bronze Age(4 thousand years ago!). To be sure, a "Mummer" is a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume while merrymaking or taking part in pantomime during any festive season_especially Christmas and Spring.
"The Book of Secrets" certified double-platinum in USA.Has sold more than 4 million copies Worldwide! AWESOMENESS!
Recently, I added the above CD/DVD combination to my collection of all things "Loreena McKennitt". I consider her my "Kindred Spirit".Her music/video takes one on a Soul searching journey.
The manner in which her music infuses the poetry and traditions of centuries pass of many cultures in _
Keats,Shakespeare,Sufism,Paganism,Religion,Christianity,Islamic_stirs the mind,body and soul.It is like unlocking the Secrets to the Universe_a wee vision of the Spirits that inhabit the World.Polish the mirror of your Soul...keep an open mind and learn!
The Mummer's Dance seen here is a song on the CD/DVD:
"The mummers would arrive at the door at night or at the end of the day, they would knock and their Captain (as the leader of a troupe is called) would shout or sing out a request for permission to enter. As soon as such permission was granted the troupe entered the house and the performance commenced. They might not always be invited into a house as there would be times when it might be inappropriate to have a performance in a house, e.g. if children were asleep, or a sick person present, or if there had been a recent death in the family, or something else of such nature. The important point here is that what instigated the performance was not the payment of money - the buying of a ticket - but rather the audience, the people in whose house the performance would be given, saying "Yes, come in and give your performance". So the exchange of money was not the vital instigating moment for the performance - "The important moment is when the host gives permission to enter. That response is crucial because people generally had no idea who these mummers were, they only knew that they belonged to the local community". So folk drama is about consolidating the values of the community, about reproducing the local community and allowing it to continue. Therefore it has a political as well as social value.
This form of "Irish Folk Drama" includes not only Mummers _but The Wrenboys,The Strawboys and The Whiteboys Connection as you will learn from the above source.Folk drama is the oldest surviving form of theatrics.
Mumming shows began as miming performances and eventually grew to become more. The term mummers derives from the Middle English word mum which means silent. Words were finally added, but the original stories were often partially lost through translation and retelling of the story. It is also believed that these plays were performed around the end of the year and during the harvesting season because it was intended to be a celebration of the death of the year and its coming again in Spring.
But wait_there's the ever popular Annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia.Pa. & other cities held each New Year's Day believed to be the oldest folk festival in the United States.Here's a couple of colorful participants!
And...The Mummers Museum in Philadelphia
The fact that "Mumming" traditions still exist today_says much about passing rituals onward_generation after generation,etc.With the Rites of Spring,Ostara,Spring Equinox upon us...I find it fitting to share a wee bit of Celtic tradition with you.I love the way Loreena McKennitt uses the "Book of Secrets" to explore this ritual....bring this Celtic Soul into your Life via her music.
~Until next time,
"Blessed Be & Bright Blessings"~