Mummers, Janneys, Naluyuks: 'one of these is not alike'
Masked and costumed figures carrying sticks, moving in groups through communities at night, banging on doors, gaining entrance to homes - unidentifiable figures known for erratic, unconventional and often violent behaviour, the mummers, janneys and naluyuks of Newfoundland and Labrador move through the physical and social landscape of communities during the mid-winter period. Although each of the events appears to contain elements from northern European traditions, 'one of these is not alike'. Mummers and janneys coincide with an English/Irish mumming heritage brought to Newfoundland by European fishers; the naluyuks are 'native' to northern Labrador and are the embodiment of an Inuit belief system and world-view ruptured by the relentless onslaught of the Moravian church. The apparent similarities between these events mask the profound differences. Archaeological evidence, historical records, ethnographic material, and first-hand accounts support the position that naluyuks are not of the north European cultural base, but are of the Inuit culture of northern Labrador.
About the author
Lynn Lunde is a performer in the Newfoundland Mummers Play and a researcher of the Newfoundland mumming tradition. The working title of her dissertation is 'The History and Tradition of Masking and Disguising Traditions in Newfoundland and Labrador', with a focus on the mumming tradition. In the early 1970s she co-founded the Mummers Theatre Troupe, a collective creation theatre company based in and espousing the Newfoundland culture. Their first production, and the production which gave the company its name, was a recreation of the Newfoundland Mummers Play, a tradition unseen on the island since World War I. Following tradition, the play was performed in people's homes. The play has been performed in St. John's and environs since 1972 by both professional performers and community groups.