He we come a-janneying
Carbonear to host parade of mummers, kitchen party
It’s time to get out your rubber boots, handkerchiefs, oversized clothes and any undergarments you may find suitable, because there’s a janneying parade in Carbonear.
For a number of years there have been rumours residents of the town were going to step up and host the first of its kind in the region.
“This was a long term idea,” organizer and town deputy mayor Frank Butt explained. “It goes back to five or six years ago. The idea of a janneying parade was always there.”
Janneying, or mummering, is when a group of people get dressed up and disguise themselves. They then go to different houses to dance, tell a few tales or even play music. Traditionally, the janneys couldn’t get offered a drink or food until their identities were guessed correctly. Typically, the practice would take place during the 12 days of Christmas.
Janneying has been in Newfoundland since the 19th century, but in recent years, it has died down.
Many children in the past few decades have been instilled with the belief that they’re not supposed to talk to strangers. Since a mummer’s face is covered, not know- ing who someone is and inviting them into your house could be unsettling for some.
But an organized event could allow more people to take in the tradition, and experience it without the negative connotations.
Butt said the intention of the parade is to bring out locals from all over the area, and allow them the opportunity to get familiar with the tradition of janneying.
“About two years ago we could see that something needed to be done to keep the tradition of janneying alive,” Butt said. “What better way to do it than to do it in an area that has so much potential.”
He was talking about Water Street in downtown Carbonear, which has a rich history of its own — Rorke’s Store, the Stone Jug and the many Victorian-style homes nearby. There will also be live music during the parade.
Butt spoke with several people who he believed might be interested in setting up a committee to make the parade happen this past summer.
Robert Thornhill, a local photographer who had taken shots of mummers and janneys last year, was first to sign on. Next was Coun. Bill Bowman, who comes from a family of folk musicians. Rounding out the group were local downtown business owner and artist Natalie Austin, Florence Button, Charlene Sudbrink and Linda Saunders.
It wasn’t long before the committee began meeting at the Knights of Columbus to brainstorm.
“There were so many ideas being thrown around during our first meeting,” Butt said.
Earlier this fall, the announcement was made that the parade was given the green light, and support started rolling in.
“It’s not just people from Carbonear, it’s all over,” Butt explained.
All of those involved with the parade are volunteers — committee members, performers and participants.
The parade will begin at 7 p.m. at Harbour Rock Hill on Saturday, Dec. 20, in front of the Salvation Army Citadel. It will be followed by hot chocolate, Purity syrup and fruit cake — three staples for janneying — at the Conception Bay Regional Community Centre at 8 p.m.
At 9 p.m., an adults-only kitchen party will begin at the Knights of Columbus on Adelaide Street, with a DJ, then live music.
“It will let people wind down a little,” Butt explained. “Why not come, de-stress with the family, the kids or alone.”
Butt said all who want to participate in the parade are welcome. Children must be supervised by a parent. Outfits can be lit up, but no open flames will be allowed.
A familiar theme around the bay for parades is traditional mummers or janneys, like these four from Old Perlican. Carbonear will open its downtown streets for a janneying parade Dec. 20 to folks just like these ones.