It’s day 9 of our Advent Calendar and today Senior Librarian Louise Birch will take us on our first visit to Robert Chambers ‘The Book of Day: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character.’ Vol. 2 (1864)
Chambers begins each day with a list of saints and events that took place on that day. From these lists he chose several individual points to write more in-depth articles on. As you can imagine as the year neared its end many of the listings and articles included Christmas related events.
For today we are going to look at the Mummers.
Mummers were groups of masked people who paraded the town in winter times, entering homes to perform and dance. Chambers describes the following:
“The grand and special performance of the mummers from time immemorial, has been the representation of a species of drama, which embodies the time-honoured legend of St George and the dragon, with sundry whimsical adjuncts, which contribute to give the whole affair an aspect of ‘very tragical mirth.’ The actors, chiefly young lads, having arrayed themselves in the costumes proper to the allegorical characters which they are to support, sally forth in company on Christmas Eve, to commence their round of visits to the houses of the principle inhabitants of the parish.”
See you tomorrow for more advent revelations