Monday, December 27, 2010

Belated Christmas Stuff

I had intended on posting Christmas wishes and all that nice stuff on the 24th, but my internet connection was sporadic at best and it just wasn't happening. We were off by noon to drop in on V's dad out along the bay and see how he was doing. He got out of hospital about 10 days ago after his minor surgery for one of those 'men's issues' and is on the mend. We continued on to the north end of the bay to visit my parents over Christmas. We had a nice visit. It would have been even better had the wind and rain let up. The waves were spectacular (the cancelled ferry crossings to the island were on account of the 9m or 28ft waves) and would be perfect for surfers if not for the large, jagged rocks along the coastline. And the fact that the bay is connected to the Atlantic and it's so frickin' cold!

On the 24th I read an outstanding Christmas horror story over at The Broken Laptop, the blog of Mercedes M. Yardley. 'A Krampus Christmas' was written by her writing group pal Ryan Bridger and its about the chappy that deals with the kids on Santa's naughty list. I should warn you that it is for mature audiences only and not for the faint of heart...

I have lived here long enough now to get the fact that Christmas here has traditionally been about the family gatherings. The meals, the singing, the dancing. Many traditions are fading away over time due partially to the fact that so many here have to leave to find work and also from outside influences from the rest of Canada and the United States.

I recently discovered a local Celtic group with a couple of CD's out. The Navigators are regulars on the Sunday morning radio show and are quickly gaining a large audience. This link will take you to the song lyrics for 'Days Gone By' where the lead singer Fred Jorgensen tells of those family gatherings. The link here also allows you to play the song (you can listen to all of the songs from both albums at their website here) and you can also link to the YouTube video of the performance of this song from their CD release party. Take a few minutes to give them a listen. Fred's voice is nothing like you've ever heard before.

One old tradition that is difficult to find here now is mummering. This tradition of dressing in costumes or wearing masks and going door-to-door dates back to the earliest English and Irish settlers in Newfoundland. Often men would dress as women and women as men and they would sing and dance and play instruments in the homes that welcomed them in. The practice was banned in 1861 because on increasing instances of violence. There is a yearly mummers parade in St. John's and you can link here to YouTube footage of the festival and a CBC story on the practice can be read here. I stumbled across another link with a bit of background on mummering or 'jannying' in Newfoundland here.

Wherever and however you celebrated your Christmas, I hope it was happy and memorable. Best wishes from the Davidsons to you and your families this holiday season.

Photo from 'These Hands Upholstery and Design'


Mark Kerstetter said...

I hadn't heard of mummering before. It's intriguing that it was banned because of "increasing instances of violence". It seems that has been the general way over time - that the fundamental (original) meaning of festivals - to switch roles and upset the accepted order of society - gradually gave way to the watered down practices we "celebrate" today.

Happy Holidays to you and your family Alan - whatever it means!

Natalie L. Sin said...

My favorite tradition is ordering Chinese food on Christmas Eve. I'm such a softie ; )

Jarmara Falconer said...

How very interesting about the Mummering!

Glad you have a wonderful Christmas
best wishes and hope to chat again soon

semprelibri said...

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David Barber said...

Alan, a great post there. Sounds like you had a great Christmas. The Navigators sound like a great band. I'm quite a lover of the Celtic/Folk music. That "mummer" tradition looks great, but reminds me of the film "The Wicker Man". Here...

A lot of the "festivals" here give me the same feelings. Great for writing inspiration!!

Wishing all the Davidsons a great New Year and all the best for 2011!! :-)

P.s. I'm off to read that story now. Thanks!

Karen from Mentor said...

I finished off the shepherds pie yesterday at lunch, so Christmas is officially over in karenland.
We had a lovely time.
Glad that you and yours did as well.
Happy holidays my friend.

Katey said...

What a fascinating tradition. It's sad to see things fall out of fashion when they weren't meant to be FASHION at all. But I hope the holidays go well for you and yours up there, and you're enjoying your own traditions :D

K.C. Shaw said...

Happy holidays! The mummering thing is interesting, even if I kept reading it as "mummying," which is probably a bit different. :)

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Mummers and Krampus and Navigators, oh my! Ryan's story was scary great. I LOVE that lead vocalist in the Navigators... like canned gravel on a shaker stick. And I adore the whole Mummering thing. Wish we had something like it here. The Mummer figurine looks quite dapper atop the telly and the Mummer ornament has a place of honour on our tree. Great post, Alan! Glad to hear V's dad is on the mend. Happy holidays!

kathryn said...

Aw. I'd comment that this was a sweet post...but that would be repeating what you've just said at my place.

But it was sweet. Glad your FIL is recovering nicely from his man-issues. (I found it Freudianly interesting that you chose to share this particular fact with us. And yes, I've deemed "Freudianly" a word.)

And I love the way you've referred to those gigantic waves as spectacular....that's the Alan I love...always putting a positive spin on things, even if it's life-threatening waves against scary, jagged rocks in frigid weather.

Rock on.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Mark- Very true, that observation about traditions being watered down or disappearing altogether. Humans are such odd characters that way. All the best in the New Year to you and 'V' my friend.

Nat- Nice tradition. THough it reminds me of the closing scene from 'A Christmas Story'. Some duck for dinner?

Jarmara- I'd bet that it's still done in some areas of Britain. Best wishes for the New Year.

Semprelibri- Glad that you like my blog...but there's no way I'm plugging that address into my browser and waving my flag at your site...

David- That 'Wicker Man' trailer was pretty bizarre. A bit hippyish, in an isolated English villiage sort of way. Reminded me of that movie 'Straw Dogs from years ago. The costumes could definately be an offshoot of the mummering tradition.

All the best to the Barber household as well, my friend. Health and happiness in 2011.

Karen- Mmmm....shepherd's pie....

Health and happiness to you as well, my friend, and all those who keep you company in karenland.

Katey-Thanks, Katey. Hope that you're having a grand time with your family. I bet there might be some mixed traditions there.

Imagine the practice of mummering in DC. Door-to-door in costumes, singing, dancing, bodyguards everywhere!

KC- that sounds like a cool story idea. Your work with that one, Kate!

Cathy- Yeah, Fred Jorgensen has a one-of-a-kind voice. He reminds me a bit of George Ferguson from the Irish Rovers years ago. Glad to hear that the mummers have a place of honour in your house. Hey, did you let your boys read the Krampus Christmas story...kind of scare them into good behaviour!

Kathryn-Yes, the 'old-yin' is mending nicely. The waves are always less threatening when you're a quarter mile away. Best wishes to you and your boys for the New Year, Kathryn.