Saturday, December 13, 2008
"Mummering (Jannying) and The Ugly Stick"
Now it may be hard to seperate me from the ugly stick so I enlarged the Ugly Stick Image. The one with the pretty berrats. Mummering is an old English tradition that lives on in NL at Christmas time. The lower orders ceased work and amused themselves during the season by dressing in fantastic disguises, gaudy clothing with painted faces and pillow cases over the heads, men in women clothes and women in mens. THey paraded the streets, playing practical jokes on each other and passers-by, performing rude dances and soliciting money or grog. They called themselves fools and mummers.
In Newfoundland it begins with a harsh knock on the back door and everyone standing ready to extend a welcome to the comic characters draped in funny clothes and veiled in funny masks. Inside they seat themselves in the kitchen there is lots of conversation in the strangest tones trying to find out who is who. Some love the detection and others resent it. Naturally they ask for Christmas cake and something strong to drink with it, grog (rum),everyone accepts this sweet request and the glasses are handed round. There is raucous and dance in rubber boots on the wrong feet harmonica in the mouth and an accordian in the hands. Fun moments are head and then the Mummers move on. Of course there is the Mummers song and sometimes they bring their own instruments. http://members.tripod.com/~JHTarrant/mummerssong.htm
The Ugly stick is one such Mummers music letting tool. It consists of a braided mop with hair berrats, and spikes with flattened beer caps for a tambourine effect and of course the base board for the tapping of the stick while on the floor there is also a tuning rod or "bow" of sorts that is corrugated and rubbed against the decorated mop handle or banged against it while tapping the mop on the base board on the floor and all in tune to the Mummering song we were attempting to play. All in fun and laughter and all in the spirit of the season.