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When I Was a Boy

Published February 06, 2008        by Nicole

When I was a boy, Christmas was a time of great rejoicing and hilarity. It was kept up for twelve days, during which there was ball-playing, wrestling matches and games of various kinds. In every house was placed on the table a decanter of rum with a very large sweet cake, baked in a Dutch oven or a large iron bake-pot. Those who could afford it, in addition to rum, had also gin, brandy and wine placed on the table. All visitors were expected to help themselves.

Then there were the mummers - those who went around by day and those who went around by night. The day mummers - the men had white shirts over their clothes, trimmed with ribbons, with fanciful hats. Each man had a partner - a man dressed in women's clothes. Into whatever house they entered they recited their lessons, ate and drank, had a dance, their own fiddler playing the tunes. The night mummers were dressed in the most grotesque manner: some with humpbacks, cow hides and horns projecting, with hobby-horses, small bags of flour, which they used to throw over their followers. Then there were the boy mummers, who went around day and night. On two Christmases I had John Bemister as a partner. He acted as the Duke of Wellington, and I personated Oliver Cromwell.