Canadian & Philadelphian Mummers Parades: Another tie to Saturnalia

Mummers Parade (Tyler McHenry)


Are you familiar with Mummers parades?  Here is some information about them:

Dec 1, 2013 – National Geographic lists Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day atop its list and writes:

The costumed revelers of this unique New Year’s Day tradition have paraded the streets of Philadelphia since the 1800s and trace their roots back to even older European traditions. Elaborately costumed dancers, drillers, and musicians entertain onlookers en route to City Hall, where judges select the best Fancies, Wenches, Comics, and String Bands…

The Philadelphia Beginnings…
In the late 1700’s. When the Swedes came to Tinicum, just outside of Philadelphia, they brought there custom of visiting friends on “Second Day Christmas”, December 26. Later they extended their period of celebration to include New Year’s day, and welcomed the new year with masquerades and parades of noisy revelers. The traditions of other nationalities were also present. The use of masks and different costumes were carried over from the Greek celebrations of King Momus, the Italian-feast of saturnalia [Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23], and the British Mummery Play.

Christmas “Mummer’s Festival”…the 5th Annual Mummer’s Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland, a festival based on English and Irish traditions that involve people dressing in disguises and visiting homes in their communities during the 12 days of Christmas…Davis, who said this year’s festival will include costume workshops, history lectures and a Dec. 14 Mummer’s Parade…

Though it looks more like a scene from a horror movie than the age old Christmas tradition it is, mummering is coming to Fort McMurray, but rest assured, the seemingly maligned masses are filled only with lumpy pillows, grain alcohol and the holiday spirit.

Shaun Majumder, a Newfoundland-born comedian and veteran cast member of This Hour has 22 Minutes, will hit the ground running Saturday in Fort McMurray, camera crew in tow, as he films a segment for the CBC-based sketch news show’s hour-long holiday special, set to air Dec. 10 at 8 p.m.

The Christmas tradition, sometimes known as “janneying,” dates back to the 1800s in England and Ireland. It was, and still is, embraced in parts of Newfoundland.

“Mummers and “guisers” (performers in disguise) can be traced back at least to the Middle Ages, though when the term “mummer” appears in medieval manuscripts it is rarely clear what sort of performance was involved. A key element was visiting people in disguise at Christmas.

From what I have been able to tell, the Mummers event is becoming a big deal in Philadelphia.  Many practices associated with the pagan Saturnalia are retained in modern ‘Christmas’ celebrations.

While researching Mummers today, I ran across an article titled Christmas’ Pagan Origins that had the following:

In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born. In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born…

Of course, those who have looked into the whole ‘Christmas/New Years’ season realize that Jesus was not born on December 25th and that the dates and many observances were modifications from pagan practices.  Mummers parades seem to be an offshoot of that.

Those who have looked into the Bible realize that neither Saturnalia, Mummers, Mithras, or Christmas observances are biblical.  Because of their connections to paganism and distortions to God’s plan as revealed in His Holy Days, they should not be kept by Christians.

Early Christians did not even celebrate birthdays of any type, and certainly none to honor sun-gods or other pagan deities.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god?
How did December 25th become Christmas? Was Jesus born then? If not, why December 25? Here is the article translated into Mandarin Chinese 12月25日最后是怎么被许多基督的信仰者采纳的.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity? Was Jesus born in a below ground cave? Was Jesus born below the “Church of the Nativity”? Were the wise men there?
Is Keeping Christmas a Sin? Is keeping Christmas acceptable for true Christians? What are some scriptures to consider?
Mardi Gras: The Devil’s Carnival? Is Mardi Gras Christian? Do you know that in Bolivia the carnival/Mardi Gras time is part of a celebration known as the Devil’s Carnival? Where did it come from?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Calendario Anual de Adoración –Una crítica basada en la Biblia y en la Historia: ¿Hay un Calendario Anual de Adoración en la Biblia?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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