New Year’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Sure I love the clean slate of a new year. It’s a time to start new things, and stop old ones. I love opening an empty calendar because it’s so full of promise. But the single best thing about New Year’s Day is the Mummer’s Parade!
What, you’ve never heard of the Mummer’s Parade? Don’t feel bad. Most people haven’t. It’s a Philadelphia/South Jersey thing. Short version — thousands of people dress up in elaborate, hand-made, costumes, most with feathers, and strut down the road to celebrate the new year. Most groups are officially string bands, although over the years I’ve noticed move from all string ensembles to mixed groups.
Groups participate in divisions that describe their entry type. There’s the String Band division, The Fancy Division, Comics, The Wench Brigade, and the Fancy Brigade (which is different from the Fancy Division.) Each division has it’s own entry rules. Awards are given out for the best of each division.
It’s a sun-up until sun-down music filled, party that started in Philly in the 17th century. The idea of “mummering” is much older than that. According to the official Mummer website, it comes from early Egypt. Fora full history check out the links I’ve included above. If you’re not interested in the history, the links are worth checking out just for the pictures of Mummers from days gone by.
So, what does a New Year’s Parade have to do with health, spirituality and wellness? Everything.
Every year, I watch the live stream of the Mummers Parade. And it makes me incredibly happy. I love everything about the Mummer’s Parade. And it’s a reminder to be thankful for little things (like live streaming!). It’s also a reminder to indulge myself in the things that make me happy and the things that speak to my soul.
I’ve been talking about that a lot lately. Indulging myself is something I have not done very much of, and I’m learning how to make and take the time to do those things that bring me joy. I’m a usually a very practical person, and it’s common for me to dive headfirst into a problem, project, or task that nobody else wants to do because I’m focused on what *needs* to be done, rather than what I want to do. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. I tend to fall into the habit of doing what was easy, or what had to be done, or doing what was expected of me and completely ignoring what makes me happy.
For the past several months I’ve been trying to intentionally pay attention to things that bring me joy. As a child I used to dream about donning a fancy feathered costume and strutting down the road with a string band. I wanted to grow up to be a Mummer.
When we moved from South Jersey the Mummers were no longer on T.V. It was a local event, and only broadcast on local T.V.. My family watched the various Bowl parades and Bowl games instead.
Now, I get to share the Mummers with my kids via live-stream and even though my youngest two are now teenagers, they share my love of mummering.
Shared joy brings families together. We’re talking about taking a trip to Philly one year to watch the parade in person.
Experiencing joy helps to renew motivation for those less joyful tasks that we all must accomplish. No one likes taking out the trash, but the task is less distasteful when you have joy in your heart. It’s true that Joy comes from inside, but each of us must take the time to give ourselves experiences that bring us happiness, bring us closer to family and friends.