The Mummers Play – A Midwinter Ritual
“There can be no Green Winter
All things have a Time and Place and Order.
So – Now that Winter’s here again
Come around and gather in,
We wish your favour for to win.
This handsome band is come today
To re-enact the famous play”
A very Merry Christmas to you all. If you decide you would like to escape the turkey the inlaws and the pudding why not head out to see one of the traditional Mummers plays that take place this time each year. Both the Green Man and Jack in the Green or Green Jack appear in the text of many of the plays.
“For now comes a man all dressed in green
The ugliest brute you’ve ever seen
Awake , Awake now hear me bawl
For I bring life and death to one and all
Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring
Essential to all of these I bring
Pagan ritual and fertility to all I do keep
As jack in the green and green man I do leap”
You can find details of dates and times by using the wonderful resource available at: http://mastermummers.org/index.htm . Just enter the date range and the details of any Mummers Plays taking place will be shown.
Many of the Mummers Plays take place on Boxing day including In North Curry in Somerset where David Lawrence revived the tradition:
Their play tells the story of the battle between Summer (or Good) and Winter (or Evil). At one o’clock on Boxing day a troupe of strangely garbed figures processes into the village square led by assorted musicians playing some strange old melody. A man dressed in black and disguised with a mask (for this he is known as the Guiser) steps forward to introduce the characters:
‘You may wonder what is the Mummer’s play, and what is its meaning.
This is what there was before there was Christmas.
The Winter Solstice and the turn of the year was then celebrated by a play of ritual and symbolism.
Here we have the fight between Summer ( St. George), and Winter (The Black Knight). You shall see Summer killed by Winter and then Summer’s rebirth by extraordinary means. And then you will see the death of Winter. This is the story of the seasons.
There is (supposedly) humour in this play but its true meaning lies much deeper.’
For more information about the North Curry Mummers play and for details of the book and CD of their Mummers Play go to: