The Mummers and the New Years Day Mummer's Parade is huge business in Philadelphia. Most likely everyone knows at least someone connected to the Mummers. The only other place to see this much make up and feathers would be the Mistress's closet back before retiring from the drag arena . I have the parade on all day for guest and I usually get distracted by all the glitter and bright colors!!!
And the Parade and festivities are an all day event from 8am till around midnight, with our fine city jammed to the gills with Mummers, and parade goers. While Mummery is a brotherhood 364 days of the year, on New Year's Day they're musical adversaries. It is believed to be the oldest folk festival in the United States. Local clubs (usually called "New Years Associations") compete in one of four categories (comics, fancies, string bands, and fancy brigades). They prepare elaborate costumes and movable scenery, which take all year to complete. The parade traces back to mid-17th-century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German, and other European heritages, as well as African heritage. The parade is related to the Mummers Playtradition from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.Revivals of this tradition are still celebrated annually in South Gloucestershire, England on Boxing Day and in parts of Ireland on St. Stephen's Day and also in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador around Christmas. Swedes, Philadelphia's first settlers, brought the custom of visiting neighbors on "Second Day Christmas" (December 26) with them to Tinicum. This was soon extended through New Year's Day with costumed celebrants loudly parading through the city.
The first official parade was held January 1, 1901. The first string band, Trilby, was organized in 1898, first paraded in 1902, and last paraded in 1924. The oldest continually marching string band, having never missed a parade, is the Joseph A. Ferko String Band organized in 1922, and first started marching in 1923. In the early years of the official parade, the makeshift costumes of most celebrants were gradually replaced by more elaborate outfits funded by associations' fund-raising efforts
The comics "wenches" and female parts in most skits are typically performed by men in drag. Women were not officially allowed in the parade until the 1970s, and what most interesting, some Mummers have been in the parade all their lives, some from very early ages.
The different divisions are as follows....
Comics are clowns, many of them well-liquored. This is where the Mistress would be. Colorful outfits, often with multi-level umbrellas who dance to recordings such as "Golden Slippers". The comics typically start the parade. Themes often gently parody current events and traditional life. Prizes are awarded for floats, groups, brigades, couples, original costume, original character, and juvenile.
Fancies or Wench brigades, is an offshoot of comics, and pride themselves on continuing traditions such as the dress-and-bloomers "suits", painted faces, decorated umbrellas, and live bands to accompany the brigade.
String bands provide elaborate performances. Limited to unamplified strings, reeds, and percussion, string bands feature banjos, saxophones, accordions, double basses, drums, glockenspiels and violins in musical arrangements tied to a theme presented by the captain, beautiful costumes and props (some people call them floats). String Band's first-prize-winning railroad tunes with Broadway-style dance in 1976 changed that. String-band performances are now the most elaborate of the parade.
The largest category with the largest crews, the fancy brigades march the southernmost portion of the parade route, before heading to the convention center for a ticketed show and judging. Until the late 1970s, the fancy brigades were simply larger presentations within the Fancies. As the props grew larger, more cumbersome and more vulnerable to wind, rain and snow, the decision was made to move the Brigades indoors, where they rival Broadway shows!!!
While the day is steeped in competition, the century-long Mummers parade is also smothered in tradition — not to mention feathers, sequins and glitter.
Is it any wonder why New Years Day is my favorite holiday next to Christmas?
And then there's, of course, my New Year's Day dinner of Pork and Sauerkraut, which will be coming out of the oven shortly!
Nice to keep these traditions going! Hope your all enjoying New Years Day!!!!