The Mummers Parade is held each New Year’s Day in Philadelphia. Local clubs (usually called “New Years Associations” or “New Years Brigades”) compete in one of five categories (Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades). They prepare elaborate costumes, performance routines, and movable scenery, which take months to complete. The Mummers Parade kicks off from City Hall, and proceeds south on Broad Street to Washington Avenue. Thousands of parade-goers line the street to watch the revelry, cheer on the performances, and celebrate the New Year.
The parade traces back to mid-17th-century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German, and other European heritages, as well as African heritage. The parade is related to the Mummers Play tradition from Britain and Ireland. Revivals of this tradition are still celebrated annually in South Gloucestershire, England on Boxing Day along with other locations in England and in parts of Ireland on St. Stephen’s Day and also in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador around Christmas.
The Mummers derive their name from the Mummers’ plays performed in Philadelphia in the 18th century as part of a wide variety of working class street celebrations around Christmas. By the early 19th century, these coalesced with earlier Swedish customs, including the Christmas neighbor visits and possibly shooting firearms on New Year’s Day (although this was common in other countries as well) as well as the Pennsylvania German custom of “belsnickling,” where adults in disguise questioned children about their behavior during the previous year. The first official parade was held January 1, 1901.
For 120 years, Philadelphia has rang in the new year with a festive celebration, The Mummers Parade. More than 10,000 men, women, and children in lavish, glittering costumes do the “Mummers Strut” down Broad Street, stopping to perform at three performance areas along the way as part of a fierce competition.
The Mummers are comprised of 40+ organized clubs, categorized into five divisions that each have their own performance specialty, and compete against each other for bragging rights, the Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades.
According to en.wikipedia.org; phlvisitorcenter.com. Source of photos: internet