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Philly’s Strange Mummer Culture in Ten Photos

Philly’s Mummer Parades Offer a Century of Iconic Masonic-Tinged Oddity

Every year, ten thousand costumed “Mummers” overtake the streets of Philadelphia for one full day of colorful madness.

Super Bowl Champion Jason Kelce floored an adoring crowd of millions in Philadelphia yesterday with a Mummers-inspired speech delivered at full-volume from atop the iconic Rocky steps. And while much of the world was left wondering “what’s up with that outfit?”, Kelce’s official Mummer regalia – borrowed from the legendary Ferko Street String Band — was nothing that the Broad Street crowd didn’t recognize.

The Mummers take over Philly every year. This year’s Super Bowl Parade was a celebration of both Mummer and Eagle culture.


In fact, the Mummers and their outlandish costumers, dances, rituals and performances have taken over downtown Philly every January for well over one hundred years, begging the question “What the hell is a mummer?” and, also “Why?”.

A Century of Civic Pride

Mummers gather in social clubs and prepare all year for the New Year’s Day parade gala.

One of the longest running traditions in America, the Mummers Parade features one-of-a-kind costumes, joyful music, and inspired, fun-filled performances. Every New Year’s Day, more than 10,000 vibrantly-dressed Mummers step out on in glamour and unison, pouring into the streets of Philadelphia at 10 am sharp — strutting through clouds of confetti and glitter towards an evening performance at City Hall. The Mummers Day Parade welcomes in the New Year with competition and civic pride – and also serves as the culmination of a full year of preparation by the participating Mummers who meet daily or weekly at their Mother Clubs to plot together, build together, sew together, decorate together, drink together, laugh together, cry together – all in preparation for the grand New Year’s Day event, when they join together as the Kings and Queens of the City of Philadelphia!

The Mummers self-sort themselves into five major group classifications: Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades.

NEXT PHOTO: The car-wreck attraction of the Mummers Comic division

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