Christmastime in Gaultois – One of the last Newfoundland Outports

 

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The almost full moon rise Christmas Eve

The twelve days of Christmas are still celebrated in Gaultois. From Christmas Day until 6 January or ‘Old Christmas Day’, this little village nestled in a cosy corner of the Bay D’spoir fjord is festooned with fairy lights and full of merriment and mischief.

Snow was on the ground until late Christmas Eve rewarding us with the longed for ‘White Christmas’ and we were invited to share hearty suppers and dinners – seafood chowder, turkey and plum pudding (made by Fran and enjoyed by many).

 

 

 

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Panaroma of Gaultois Harbour

 

And then there were the “mummers, known as “Jannies” to some. Now for our Australian folk there needs to be some explanation of this unique form of entertainment in midwinter. Mummering is an ancient Celtic tradition that was brought over by the early settlers from the West Country of England and has survived 400 years here in the outports and is enjoying a current resurgence in the cities and towns of Newfoundland.

People dress up in disguises using ‘false faces’ or masks and then go house to house asking to enter with loud knocks and: “Any mummers ‘lowed in?” The people in the house are to guess who the person in disguise is and then offer them some refreshments. Sometimes there may be music, singing and even dancing in the kitchen. Mummers visit in the middle of winter, just past the solstice, and during the Twelve Days of Christmas and includes people of all ages.  With their body shapes distorted by pillows, faces obscured by masks as simple as a pillow case with holes for eyes, and voice disguised by change of tone…it is hilarious trying to guess the identity. We have been visited on three separate nights by three different groups and it is only the sixth night of Christmas.  We wonder what New Year’s Eve may hold in store….

“Some have argued that the word “mummer” itself is derived from a word meaning “mask”. The German mumme means “mask” or maker while vermommen in Dutch means a disguise. …Encyclopaedia Britannica suggest a possible connection with the Greek mommo or mormo, and suggest that “Mormo was probably and underworld goddess, resembling the ogress who gave her name to the Perchten runners, Germand mask mummers who paraded on Twelfth-night.” Ref: ‘Any Mummers ‘Lowed In?’ by Dale Jarvis 2014 Flanker Press Limited St John’s

 

Have we seen the last of the mummers this Christmas??

 

 

Check out the Mummers Song by Simini – Newfoundland Original Uncut Version

The Mummers Song

 

 

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Christmas Day – thanks for the alpaca cape Louise – perfect for this weather 🙂
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baby mummer and friend
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Hello Sandra and Heidi!
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Christmassy lounge
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a game of Ramoli
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Teenage Mummers
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Hello Joy, Courtney & Kristy!
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Marcella, Sandra, Bonnie, Audrey, Barb & Cathy
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who’s that coming in the door?!
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Mummer bride
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Can Fran guess who?!
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Adult Mummers
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A Mummer wedding
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Who?!
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Who?!
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Pregnant Mummer
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what the?!
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Surprise! Bonnie, Cathy, Matthew, Joan & Marcella!
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Joan – thirsty work this mummering!
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frozen pond

 

 

 

Postscript:

 

On the 7th day of Christmas we had a visit from two Sister Mummers: Susan and Bessie!

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can’t believe it is Susan
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Bessie the Joker
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moonrise Hermitage Bay

 

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Post postscript: And on the 10th day of Christmas we had a visit from 5 more Mummers- goodness it must be half the population of Gaultois Mummering this year!

 

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a loud knock on the door at 9pm and we let the Mummers in!
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trying hard to guess who these incognito guests are
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Christine!
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Yolande!
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who? who?
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a silent Mummer giving away no clues
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a little bit spooky this one…
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but it is only Gloria!

 

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The Mummer Five of Gaultois

 

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Bonnie, Sandra, Gloria, Christine, Yolande
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off they go to the next house
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down the road…
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and into the mysterious mummer midwinter nite…
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18 thoughts on “Christmastime in Gaultois – One of the last Newfoundland Outports

    1. sure would love to get back there for a visit maybe some day hello to les, everett ,barbara and families btw this is shirley cooper

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  1. We have some wonderful memories of beautiful Gaultois!! We will cherish them always!! Merry Christmas and a happy New year everyone!! God bless!!

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  2. brings back some great memories of christmas time in my hometown, christmas was always a joyful time there and still think about those days and how good it was living and growing up there.

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  3. I grew up in St. Jacques in fortune bay during the 60-70’s. I have many wonderful memories of mummering.
    Thanks for reminding me of the true christmas spirit that was so powerful in the outports.
    Sadly but true , the true meaning of christmas is becoming as rare as the mummer.

    Liked by 1 person

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