Back in the 1990s I participated in mummers groups at Reclaiming Tradition witchcamps in British Columbia. Combining my fascinations with folklore and ritual, mummers plays and costumed evocations were sometimes remarkably potent, memorable events. For this reason, I love to see folkloric celebrations taking place during the dark times of the year. Here are a few videos worth a look.
The Mari Lwyd is a tradition seen in South Wales around Christmas and the twelve days of Christmas. Featuring a decorated horse skull, often with a mobile, clacking jaw, with the “horse” clad in white, and accompanied by a costumed retinue, the Mari Lwyd makes house visitations, with the retinue striving to be invited in. Sometimes there are traditional songs, an offer of hospitality by the people at home, or a rhyming contest. See for yourself how this tradition has recently been revived in a local school in Wales.
A spookier and more disturbing tradition comes from the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria. Perchta (plural: Perchten) is a folkloric woman, possibly related to the Goddess Holda, who visits homes between Christmas and Twelfth Night. She knows, like Santa, whether you’ve been naughty or nice. This crew of antlered Perchten is from the Tirol region of Austria, and is creepy, wonderful, loud, and decidedly ancient AND postmodern. Take a look.
A joyful Twelfth Night to you all.