About Us

Awards & Recognition

 

2015 EVENT OF THE YEAR

(City of St. John’s)

 

2012 COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AWARD

(NL Historic Sites Association)

 

2011 CULTURAL TOURISM AWARD

(Hospitality NL)

 

2011 Mummering was designated as a
DISTINCTIVE CULTURAL TRADITION OR PRACTICE (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

The Mummers Festival is a participant-focused, community-based festival that encourages the celebration of mummering traditions. Each year, the Mummers Festival hosts events over the first two weeks of December leading up to its crowning event, the Mummers Parade. Workshops, public forums with mummer experts, lectures and school programming act as educational and momentum-building events for the big Parade Day. Participants can build a jaw-snapping hobby horse or learn how to play their own homemade ugly stick. Audiences meet mummer experts (those long-term, experienced locals who have been mummering for decades) and receive first-hand knowledge about the many intricacies of this tradition.

 

"Where foolish is the new normal, underwear

is outerwear, and a curtain is more than just a curtain."

 

The Mummer Parade draws out families and friends of various backgrounds and ages who dress in mummer disguises and parade through the streets. For this one day, everyone is a mummer with the freedom to act out in fun and surprising ways. The Mummers Festival successfully taps into one of the most important elements of the mummering tradition: social bonding. Like many other Christmas traditions, mummering brings together families, friends and strangers alike to create a sense of community. The Mummers Festival and Parade is the biggest celebration of this 300 year old tradition. It is the newly veiled face of mummering working to keep cultural identity alive and strong.

Our History

The Mummers Festival was initially a joint initiative with the Intangible Cultural Heritage division of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University’s Folklore Department. The initiative began in 2009 with the intention of passing along a well-researched model to a community group who would continue organizing the Mummers Festival. That year, the Festival included 16 free community events throughout the month of December. In 2010 a Mummers Festival community group was established and run entirely by volunteers. In 2011, the Mummers Festival incorporated as a nonprofit entity. The Festival is going into its 11th year.

Our Mandate

To produce festivals for the purpose of education, charity, cultural promotion, community engagement and advancement of the public’s understanding and appreciation of Newfoundland and Labrador folk traditions related to mummering and Christmastime practices; and to assist in the transmission of these folk traditions through participation by the public and tradition-bearers in such festivals and related forums, lectures, workshops, performances and public events.

Our Goal

The Mummers Festival aims to promote the continuance and evolution of traditional arts and performance by encouraging active participation in mummering activities. All events are designed to equip the public with skills and knowledge about mummering so that they can better participate in our Parade day events and, it is hoped, the house-visiting traditions that occur during the twelve days of Christmas.

 

Conserving culture

The Mummers Festival was guided by principles of cultural conservation and intangible cultural heritage and influenced by folklife festival models, known for their ethnographic approach to planning. The goal is to see traditions live. Each year, the Festival creates new opportunities to pass along traditional skills and knowledge. A folklife festival model attempts to achieve the goals of cultural understanding and cultural transmission as encouraged by UNESCO’s policies on intangible cultural heritage. At the heart of the Mummers Festival is the aspiration to represent, celebrate, and inspire the transmission of collective cultural knowledge in a grassroots way.

Mummers Parades

in newfoundland

 

Since the Mummers Festival's beginning in 2009, 12 other communities in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador have started their own mummers parades or walks. For a tradition that is supposedly “dying out”, mummer-themed community events help reinvigorate mummering and ensure that youth are exposed to the finer details and actions of the tradition. Our Festival inspires other communities to take ownership of their own traditions and make them relevant for the next generation.

 

What is Intangible

Cultural Heritage?

 

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) describes, among other things, our stories, holidays, community gatherings, culinary arts, rituals, songs and languages. We have long thought of heritage as tangible things (like our buildings, our furniture, our clothing) that have been handed down to us, and that we can preserve in our homes, museums and historic sites. However, many communities and peoples around the world recognize that this is only a part of what makes up their heritage, and that intangible ideas, customs and knowledge are equally important for cultural identity.

 

Generated in-and held collectively by-members of a community, such knowledge is dynamic. It is transmitted across generations and shaped anew as each generation innovates, experiments and adapts to changing social norms and values. Specifc ICH processes and practices include oral traditions, customs, drama, languages, music, dance, celebrations, and special skills needed to create and use tools and crafts that emerge from the local habitat and economy. Mummering is a type of traditional drama and considered to be a form of intangible cultural heritage.

 

What is a Folklife Festival?

Described as an exposition of intangible cultural heritage, a folklife festival is just one way to help encourage the celebration of traditions and recognize tradition-bearers. A folklife festival strives to provide the opportunity for people of varying backgrounds to come together and explore the many aspects of particular traditions. A folklife festival attempts to achieve the goals of cultural understanding and cultural transmission, as encouraged by UNESCO’s policies on intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

 

Since 1967 the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington has been producing an annual folklife festival and has served as a model of a research-based exposition of intangible cultural heritage. They describe their folklife festival as “an exercise in cultural democracy, in which cultural practitioners speak for themselves, with each other, and to the public.” The Mummers Festival is an attempt to model the Smithsonian’s methodology and approach but with due attention to the differences in context.

 

At the heart of a folklife festival is the aspiration to represent collective cultural knowledge. This approach encourages the free and informed participation of community members and tradition-bearers who, it is hoped, will play a central role in the shape of a festival’s development and overall outcome.

 

A folklife festival aims to ensure traditions are renewed and kept alive. Preserving and safeguarding culture does not suggest the protection of traditions from outside forces, but rather, supports the conditions necessary for cultural reproduction. In line with cultural conservation, ICH policies encourage the sustainability of traditions by taking a natural-heritage-as-living-systems approach that seeks to sustain the whole system as a living, dynamic entity.

 

 

creating

 

community

 

 

The Mummers Festival acts as a deeply meaningful event that celebrates the spirit of coming together with friends, family and strangers alike. In an urban setting like St. John’s with a diverse public, the Festival provides a welcoming introduction to local Christmastime customs for newcomers and visitors. Our free events make sure everyone can join in.

 

The Mummers Festival taps into the spirit of Christmas that people long for in the face of a highly commercial time of year and conjures a sense of unique place. It is a staging ground for the expression of Newfoundland pride. Our events produce unforgettable memories and induce someimpressive natural highs.

 

2009

Janney Film Night

Mummering Memories

Pocket Mummer Workshop

Mummering Today: a lecture

Hobby Horse and Wren Stick Workshop

Hark What’s the Noise: a display of mummer craft

“How do you mummer anyway?”: a public forum A Mummers Play Making Mummers Masks

The Philadelphia Mummers Parade: a lecture

Framing Festivals

Mini Mummers School Visits

Rig Up

Mummers Parade

Mummers Concert and Mummers Jam

 

2010

Hobby Horse Workshops

Mummering Past and Present: 3 lectures

Mummers and Masks: a mummers film

Rig Up

Mummers Parade

Mummers Concert and Jam

 

2011

Hobby Horse Workshops

Mini Mummers School Tour

“How do you mummer anyway?”: a public forum

Ugly Stick Workshops

Visions and Visitors: Media Images of Christmas Mumming in Newfoundland Mummers and Masks: a film

Rig Up

Mummers Parade

Mummers Concert & Jam

 

2012

Hobby Horse Workshops

Mummers and Murder: Reinvestigating the Death of Isaac Mercer

Ugly Stick Workshops

Mini Mummers School Tour

“How do you mummer anyway?”: a public forum

Mummer Movies: CBC’s Land & Sea Mummers

Rig Up

Mummers Parade

Mummers Parade Concert and

Mummers Jam

Mummer-oke

2013

Hobby Horse Workshops
Box and Bird Mask Workshop
Ugly Stick Workshops
Mini Mummers School Tour
Newfoundland Mummers Play and Pocket Mummers
A Night of Mummering with Northern Ireland’s Armagh Rhymers
Mumming in Northern Ireland: a doc and talk with the Armagh Rhymers
Armagh Rhymers at the Inn of Olde: a night of performance, music, and recitation
Rig Up
Mummers Parade
Mummers Scuff ‘n’ Scof
f

 

2014

Hobby Horse Workshops
Unveiled: research and stories from “Any Mummers ‘Lowed In?”
Ugly Stick Workshops
Box and Bird Mask Workshop
Mini Mummers School Tour
Mini Mummers and Festival Fashion Nalujuk Night: a public forum

Mummer-oke
Rig Up Mummers Parade
Scuff ‘n’ Scoff
Mummers Dozen Pub Crawl

2015

Hobby Horse and Christmas Bull Workshops Mummer Mayhem
“Fool’s Paradise”: a public forum about the NL Fool Traditions

Finding Fools: Researching NL Fool traditions

Pouch Cove’s Ribbon Rig Workshops
Mini Mummers School Tour
Ugly Stick Workshops

Ship (Hat) of Fools Workshops Rig Up
Pot ‘n’ Pan Kitchen Jam Mummers Parade

Scuff ‘n’ Scoff
Mummers Dozen Pub Crawl

2016

Hobby Horse and Christmas Bull Workshops
Exploring a Changing Tradition: Christmas Mummering in NL
Ribbon Rig Workshops

Ugly Stick Workshops
Mini Mummers School Tour
Plankin' 'Er Down: Dance & Mummersing in NL
Mummers, Wrens & Hobbies: the Irish & NL Connection
Rig Up and Pot 'n' Pan Kitchen Jam
Mummers Parade and Scuff 'n' Scoff
Mummer Mayhem!

King of All Birds: a public forum about NL Wren Traditions

2017
Hobby Horse and Christmas Bull Workshops
Ugly Stick Workshops
Ribbon Rig Workshops
Mummer Memories Mug Up
Mini Mummers School Tour
Handcrafted Holiday Beasts
Making Mummers
Rig Up and Scuff 'n' Scoff
Mummers Parade
History of Holiday Beasts

Land & Sea Mummers

2018
Hobby Horse Workshop
Ugly Stick Workshops

Frightening Fools
Fool's Paradise
Box & Bucket Mask Workshop
How Do You Mummer Anyway?
The Story of the Armagh Rhymers
Rig Up and Scuff 'n' Scoff
Mummers Parade
Jannies on the Big Screen 
10 Years of Mummers Festival

 

2019

Ugly Stick Workshops

Music and Mummering

Jannys on the Big Screen

Any Mummers "Lowed In?

Mummer Mask Workshops

Mummer Memory Mug Up

Mini Mummers School Tour

Box and Bird Mask Workshop

The Heart's Delight-Islington Choir Christmas Carols

Rig Up

Mummers Parade

Scuff 'n Scoff

11 years of programming

 
 

REVIVING

TRADITION

“If you got a child that starts out when they’re five or six years old and they go to a Mummers Parade and then they go to a few mummers parades...well they’re probably going to get together, or say, ‘Come on Mom and Dad, let’s go mummering.’ And we’ll go to our Aunt’s and our Uncle’s and our cousins and all of our family. So that will revive it. Then when they get old enough to do it themselves, they’re going to do it, and they’re going to pass it on to their children. Because it is tradition for here.”

--Doug MacDonald, participant from Colliers, NL

 

2020 Mummers Festival Staff

Lynn McShane, Executive Director

Lynn has volunteered as the Festival's Vice-Chair since 2014, and is delighted to  take on the Executive Director role this season. Lynn has a background in English and Business Administration from Memorial University of Newfoundland, as well as a Non-Profit Management Post-Graduate Diploma from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. A non-profit professional with over 22 years’ experience in the arts and culture, health care and education sectors, including roleEducationMatters, the Glenbow Museum, and the Calgary Health Trust. Back home in her beloved Newfoundland, she enjoys being involved in the local historical and cultural sector, including providing exhibit and performance content for the Admiralty House Communication Museum's exhibit Faces of the Florizel, as well as  performing at the St. John's Storytelling Festival. Lynn thrives on engaging people and communities, and grew up mummering with her huge family in Renews on the Southern Shore.

 

2020 Mummers Festival Board of Directors

Andrea O'Brien, Chair

 

Andrea O’Brien has extensive academic and professional experience in the province’s heritage sector. She is a graduate of Memorial University - where she completed a B.A. focusing on folklore, history, Newfoundland Studies and English, a Bachelor of Education and an M.A. in folklore. As a student she worked for many years at MUN’s Folklore and Language Archives and at the Colony of Avalon in Ferryland, later serving on its Board. She has been employed with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2004 and is presently their Register of Historic Places, Municipal Outreach Officer, Youth Heritage Places Poster Contest coordinator and web manager. Andrea has been a member of the Mummers Festival board since its inception. Being a Southern Shore gal, she’s done her share of mummering too.

Maria Lear, Secretary

 

Maria joined the Mummers Festival in 2013 and absolutely loves giving her time to such a vibrant, energetic & genuine group! Having gazed in awe watching the grown-ups of her childhood family Christmas parties dressing up in mummer regalia, she could not wait to get old enough to join in the fun! For her, the annual community event of the Mummers Parade is a fantastic, free, family & friend super fun-day that fills participants, spectators and all the awesome volunteers with joyous feeling--one that truly captures the heart of the season! She feels very privileged to have a small role in helping bring this fun to her community & wishes everyone could experience the exuberance of the Mummers Festival! Maria has volunteered with community & municipal organizations, and has been an active member on several boards. Maria has a M.A in Archaeology, is the Archaeological Curator at MUN (Department of Archaeology) & has many years experience working in the Irish commercial archaeology sector.

Patti Hamilton, Treasurer

Although a true Townie, Patti's heart belongs on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland, where her love of mummering began.  As a young child she watched people in the community of Renews come to her Grandmother’s home during Christmas, adorned in their finest lace curtains, mismatched rubber boots and their mother’s well-stuffed size 42 bra! Patti has a degree in Library Studies from Memorial University, with a diverse background in business development and business management within various private industries.  Patti also has a passion for volunteering and service with other local non-profit  organization’s in St. John’s.  She joined the Mummer’s Festival in 2017 and is always excited to carry the ugly-stick for this wonderful organization. 

Jenny Quilliam, Director

 

Jenny earned her CPA through CMA Canada and has an MBA from Memorial University. She also has a BA in History and one of her favourite things about the Festival is how it functions as both a living history and an evolving tradition. Jenny has served on the board since 2016  and loves being on the front line of the organized foolishness that is the Mummers Festival.

Beth Saunders, Director

Beth Saunders has a Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in Marketing from Memorial University and worked as the Digital Marketing Specialist with Reflective Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency based in St. John's. She's passionate about social media marketing and volunteering, having held several volunteer positions with organizations like TEDxStJohns, TEDxYouth@StJohns, Ladies Learning Code, and AIESEC Memorial. She also lead the TEDxStJohns social media team in 2013, where the event hashtag was a top trend on Twitter across all of Canada. Beth wants to keep the tradition of mummering alive and well in Newfoundland and Labrador and believes social media is the perfect avenue to do so, having the ability to spark conversations and connect with the community both near and far.

Beth.jpg

Terra Barrett


Terra grew up in St. John's has been involved with the Mummers Festival since 2015. She has volunteered with postering, workshops, social media, and research. Beyond volunteering with the Mummers Festival, Terra has experience in the arts and heritage sector as a Public Folklorist with Heritage NL from 2014-2019, and an Animateur with The Rooms since Oct 2018. She holds an MA in Public Folklore from Memorial University, a BA in Folklore and French from Memorial University, and a Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. Terra has been parading around in oversized bras, and disguising herself for years so she comes by her love of mummering honestly.

Wyatt Herschfeld Shibley

Wyatt Hirschfeld Shibley is a Folklore MA student at Memorial University, having previously completed a BA with a concentration in Folklore and Russian Language and Literature. Passionate about our province’s cultural heritage, he previously worked as a Heritage Presenter for Parks Canada at Signal Hill National Historic Site. As a musician and multi-instrumentalist, he is an enthusiastic proponent of the province’s musical traditions. Indeed, despite his best efforts to disguise himself while walking in the Mummers Parade, he is often given away by his button accordion! A long-time participant in the Mummers Festival, he is excited to serve on the board as of 2019.

Krista Thorne

Krista joined the Mummers Festival Board of Directors in 2019 and has enjoyed every minute of involvement since. She has always loved watching the parade as a bystander and seeing the Newfoundland tradition of mummering come to life with bright colors, crazy outfits, music, songs and so much fun that is liken to a big old Newfoundland kitchen party.  She is no stranger to mummering and participated in annual mummering events with former employer. Krista is excited to continue on with the Mummers Festival and help get the community involved in the fun filled events that make up the festival, so that all generations can continue on this special tradition that is a part of our heritage. She will definitely tell you that taking part in the events is amazing and a must do for everyone!
 

Delores Burton

Delores has a day job in technical writing.   She is new to Mummer’s Festival Board as of 2019, and finds enjoyment in the unbridled creativity it offers.   She sees the tradition through the lens of culture but also the tremendous sense of community and connection it fosters.  She is an avid walker with her dog Scrunchion, enjoys podcasts, hiking and dabbling in genealogy.  Her happy place is Renews.
 

Katie Crane

Katie joined the Mummers Festival Board of Directors in 2019, and has greatly enjoyed time so far. She is a MA student in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University.

2020 Mummers Festival Staff

Lynn McShane, Executive Director

Lynn has volunteered as the Festival's Vice-Chair since 2014, and is delighted to 

take on the Executive Director role this season. Lynn has a background in English and Business Administration from Memorial University of Newfoundland, as well as a Non-Profit Management Post-Graduate Diploma from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. A non-profit professional with over 20 years’ experience in the arts and culture, health care and education sectors, Lynn's past roles include Manager of Grants & Scholarships with Education Matters (Calgary, AB);  Manager of Volunteer Resources at the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, AB); and Development Associate with the Calgary Health Trust. Since returning home to her beloved Newfoundland, she enjoys being involved in the local historical and cultural sector, including providing exhibit and performance content for the Admiralty House Communication Museum's exhibit Faces of the Florizel, as well as  performing at the St. John's Storytelling Festival. Lynn thrives on engaging people and communities, and grew up mummering with her huge family in Renews on the Southern Shore.

Lynn%20Bio%20Picture_edited.jpg

2020 Mummers Festival Board of Directors

Terra Barrett, Chair

 

Terra Barrett is an Education and Public Programming Officer with The Rooms. Previously, she has worked as a Public Folklorist with Heritage NL, and a Project Researcher with Them Days Inc. Terra has volunteered and worked with the Mummers Festival in several roles since 2013, and most recently she served as the ED for the 2019 festival. She holds a BA in Folklore (French minor), and a MA in Public Folklore from Memorial University as well as a Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. Terra volunteers with a number of organizations including the Mummers Festival and is particularly interested in the crafts, foodways and folk beliefs of the province. She has been parading around in oversized bras, and disguising herself for years so she comes by her love of mummering honestly.

Terra%20IV_edited.jpg
Terra_edited.jpg

Beth Saunders, Vice-Chair

Beth Saunders has a Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in Marketing from Memorial University and worked as the Digital Marketing Specialist with Reflective Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency based in St. John's. She's passionate about social media marketing and volunteering, having held several volunteer positions with organizations like TEDxStJohns, TEDxYouth@StJohns, Ladies Learning Code, and AIESEC Memorial. She also lead the TEDxStJohns social media team in 2013, where the event hashtag was a top trend on Twitter across all of Canada. Beth wants to keep the tradition of mummering alive and well in Newfoundland and Labrador and believes social media is the perfect avenue to do so, having the ability to spark conversations and connect with the community both near and far.

Maria Lear, Secretary

 

Maria joined the Mummers Festival in 2013 and absolutely loves giving her time to such a vibrant, energetic & genuine group! Having gazed in awe watching the grown-ups of her childhood family Christmas parties dancing around in long underwear, Nan's dresses & banging ugly sticks while wearing dishtowels on their faces--she could not wait to get old enough to join in the fun! For her, the annual community event of the Mummers Parade is a fantastic, free, family & friend super fun-day that fills participants, spectators and all the awesome volunteers with joyous feeling--one that truly captures the heart of the season! She feels very privileged to have a small role in helping bring this fun to her community & wishes everyone could experience the exuberance of the Mummers Festival! Maria has volunteered with community and municipal organizations & has been an active member on several boards. Maria is the Archaeological Curator at MUN (Archaeology Dept) and has many years experience working in the Irish commercial archaeology sector. 

Patti Hamilton, Treasurer

Although a true Townie, Patti's heart belongs on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland, where her love of mummering began.  As a young child she watched people in the community of Renews come to her Grandmother’s home during Christmas, adorned in their finest lace curtains, mismatched rubber boots and their mother’s well-stuffed size 42 bra! Patti has a degree in Library Studies from Memorial University, with a diverse background in business development and business management within various private industries.  Patti also has a passion for volunteering and service with other local non-profit  organization’s in St. John’s.  She joined the Mummer’s Festival in 2017 and is always excited to carry the ugly-stick for this wonderful organization. 

Andrea O'Brien, Director

 

Andrea O’Brien has extensive academic and professional experience in the province’s heritage sector. She is a graduate of Memorial University - where she completed a B.A. focusing on folklore, history, Newfoundland Studies and English, a Bachelor of Education and a M.A. in folklore. As a student she worked for many years at the Colony of Avalon in Ferryland and later served on its Board. She has been employed with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2004 and is presently their Municipal Outreach Officer - along with managing their Fisheries Heritage Preservation Program and Heritage Places Poster Contest. Andrea has been a member of the Mummers Festival board since its inception. Being a Southern Shore gal, she’s done her share of mummering too.

Wyatt Hirschfeld Shibley, Director

 

Wyatt Hirschfeld Shibley is a Folklore MA student at Memorial University, having previously completed a BA with a concentration in Folklore and Russian Language and Literature. Passionate about our province’s cultural heritage, he previously worked as a Heritage Presenter for Parks Canada at Signal Hill National Historic Site. As a musician and multi-instrumentalist, he is an enthusiastic proponent of the province’s musical traditions. Indeed, despite his best efforts to disguise himself while walking in the Mummers Parade, he is often given away by his button accordion! A long-time participant in the Mummers Festival, he is excited to serve on the board as of 2019

Krista Thorne, Director

 

Krista joined the Mummers Festival in 2019 and has enjoyed every minute of being involved since then. She has always loved watching the parade as a bystander and seeing the Newfoundland tradition of mummering come to life with bright colors, crazy outfits, music, songs and so much fun that is liken to a big old Newfoundland kitchen party.  She is no stranger to mummering and used to participate in mummering events annually with a company she used to work with. Krista is excited to continue on with the Mummers Festival and help get the community involved in the fun filled events that make up the festival, so that all generations can continue on this special tradition that is a part of our heritage. She will definitely tell you that taking part in the events is amazing and a must do for everyone!

Delores Burton, Director

 

Delores has a day job in technical writing.   She joined the Board of the Mummer’s Festival in 2019 and finds enjoyment in the unbridled creativity it offers.   She sees the tradition through the lens of culture but also the tremendous sense of community and connection it fosters.  She is an avid walker with her dog Scrunchion, enjoys podcasts, hiking and dabbling in genealogy.  Her happy place is Renews.

our sponsors

General Inquiries: info@mummersfestival.ca