The Mummers Parade: A Philly Tradition
The Mummers Parade: A Philly Tradition
November 17, 2022

The Mummers Day Parade may not be well-known outside of the Philadelphia area, but it is one of the most festive days of the year for many Philly residents. Mummers Day is full of partying and eating delicious food but is also historically and culturally important. In fact, it has been celebrated for well over 100 years.

What is the Mummers Parade?

The Mummers Day Parade, which takes place on New Year's Day, is the oldest continuously celebrated folk parade in the United States. For over 120 years the parade has been made up of local clubs that are competing to see who can put on the best performance. The members of these clubs dress up in elaborate costumes, perform various routines, and create intricate movable scenery. The clubs often spend months preparing for the parade.

But it's not merely a performance. It is also a competition, with clubs competing in a total of five categories: Fancy Brigades, Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, and String Bands.

One Source's own Neil Inverso dancing with his Mummers Day brigade

History Behind the Mummers Parade

With a rich and exciting history, the parade can be traced all the way back to the mid-17th century when Philadelphia was first settled by Europeans. The first ancestor of the Mummers Parade was the "Second Day Christmas" tradition practiced by many Swedish and Finnish immigrants in the area. This custom involved visiting neighbors and partying on the day after Christmas. The custom was soon extended to New Year's Day, and British and Irish immigrants joined in. Those taking part would recite songs and comic verses in exchange for food and drink. It was also common for celebrants to shoot guns into the air. This has long since been discontinued for safety reasons.

In the 18th century, the Mummers name came into use. It was taken from street plays that were popular at the time. The tradition continued to become more popular and elaborate during the 18th and 19th centuries. The authorities tried to suppress the riotous behavior, but they were not successful. The city of Philadelphia officially sanctioned the parade in the early 1900s and its kept growing since then.

What You Need to Know to Enjoy the Parade

Those who want to enjoy the parade should take up positions early around City Hall, where the parade begins, and down Broad Street. Judging for the competitive aspect of the parade occurs at City Hall before the parade starts

Parade attendees should dress warmly, as Philly is often very cold around this time of year. They should also bring sunscreen, as the parade occurs during the day. There are also refreshments available at numerous locations throughout the parade route, but it may be a good idea to bring bottled water.

Special Memories from the One Source Team

We were talking the other day at lunch in the One Source Test Kitchen about the Mummers Parade and wanted to share some of those special memories with you. Hopefully it shows a snippet of the passion and joy that we hold for the community that we proudly represent and live in.


"The Mummers Parade for me holds a lifetime of memories starting as a child with the entire family being on Broad Street in the bitter cold, then going to relatives' and friends' homes to warm up eat and head back out again. In later years I had the opportunity to participate in the comics for two years (see photos above) and, after having a family of my own, continued to attend and pass the experience on to my children. This year I look forward to seeing my colleagues on the parade route and introducing it to yet another generation - my grandchildren."


"Nothing beats the overall feeling of community and togetherness that Philly has on the day of the Mummers Parade. The party atmosphere is unreal. The streets come alive with joy and laughter."


"The house that my husband and I lived in as newlyweds was of the sidestreets that people participating in the parade would walk down early in the morning to prepare for the route. I loved being privy to the preparation side of the parade and watching this happen outside my window. It's a surreal type of awe over the elaborate costumes, skits, and musical performances."

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