is putting on a holiday play or pageant in which the actors use gestures, masks, props, and elaborate makeup, but do not have spoken lines. The players, called mummers,
would travel from house to house to perform. They would also perform at the village "publick house," or pub.
While mumming can be traced to Great Britain during the Middle Ages, these folk plays spread to other parts of the world. You can still find mumming traditions happening in Newfoundland, Canada; Cornwall, England; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The origins of the word aren't clear — some etymologists attribute it to an old English word mumm (meaning "silent"), while others say it derives from the old German word mummer (meaning "disguised person").
In Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native, Eustacia tells her grandfather,
I wanted an adventure, and I went with the mummers. I played the part of the Turkish Knight.