Mummers and Mumming

mumming play

mumming play, form of drama developed in England in the early 17th cent., based on the legend of St. George and the dragon. The central theme of the play is the death and resurrection of the hero. The mumming play possibly evolved from some primitive folk celebration. However, it is most closely associated with the medieval sword dance, which symbolized the reawakening of the earth from the death of winter. During the Christmas season a few English villages still present the mumming play.

See A. Brody, English Mummers and Their Plays (1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain
Ronald Hutton.
Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Mummers' Play and Sword Dance"
Seasonal Feasts and Festivals
E. O. James.
Barnes & Noble, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "The Mummers' Play" begins on p. 273
The English Folk-Play
E. K. Chambers.
Clarendon Press, 1933
Librarian’s tip: "The Mummers' Play and Its Congeners" begins on p. 1
All Silver and No Brass: An Irish Christmas Mumming
Henry Glassie.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983
Models and Mirrors: Towards An Anthropology of Public Events
Don Handelman.
Berghahn Books, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Christmas Mumming in Newfoundland"
The Illustrated Book of Christmas Folklore
Tristram Potter Coffin.
Seabury Press, 1973
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of mummers and mumming begins on p. 113
Rethinking Folk Drama
Steve Tillis.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of mummers and mumming begins on p. 177
A Companion to the Medieval Theatre
Ronald W. Vince.
Greenwood Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: "Momos 'Mummers'; Momeraa 'Mumming'" begins on p. 245
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