The Mummers of Newfoundland: Background information when reading Galore

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A Novel

by Michael Crummey

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    Mar 2011, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Dawson Oakes

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Beyond the Book:
The Mummers of Newfoundland

Two vivid and lively scenes in Galore reflect the occasion of mummers performing house-visits in the fictional outport community of Paradise Deep, Newfoundland. The practice of mumming (also known as mummering or janneying)  in Newfoundland originated with the early immigrants from Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Mumming is based within the traditions of folk drama and masquerading and often occurs on the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas (January 5th).   There are several different types of mumming: house visits, the parade of mummers and the mummers play.

In a typical house visit, mummers don disguises created from old clothes, rags and pillow cases to hide their identity, with men often dressing as women and vice versa. Often, at least one mummer will modify a traditional hobby horse so that the jaws are hinged and then, with the aid of a bit of sacking or some such, will disguise themselves as a talking horse. The group of mummers will...

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