Mummers’ celebrations in America date back to colonial times. What was an adaptation of the Swedish custom of celebrating the end of the year with noise making, combined with the traditional British Christmas mummery play. Groups of usually 20 people, twith faces blackened, would march from home to home, shouting and discharging firearms into the air while burlesquing English mummers’ plays.
Philadelphia, due to its sizable Swedish population, was the center of America’s mummers’ celebrations.
In celebration of the American centennial, on the 1st of January, in 1876, what had been an uncoordinated group of neighborhood celebrations blossomed into an city-wide parade featuring various mummers’ clubs.