The history of the Mummer’s Prance goes back nearly three hundred years, when the first way of Pordin immigrants made the rounds of their friends and neighbors after Yule, banging on pots and pans to scare away demons. This was one of their old Pordin heathen traditions, prettied up some as not to offend their new city’s dominant faith.
As the city grew, and the tides of invasion/ counter-invasion and immigrants/ refugees, ebbed and flowed, other people’s traditions began spicing the mix, and before long, the day after The New Year Birth, began to look like Greble, Halloween, or some other madman’s holiday. Parties of costumed folk would go door to door, sing, dancing, banging metal on metal, and calling for cake and strong drink. The city has a strong injunction against certain things on the City Ledger, but since the City Watch often joins some of the festivities, there is a wink to the sly about their enforcement (except in flagrant cases).
The word "mummer" comes from the Gaulian word momer - "to wear a mask" which describes most people on the streets and many in snowy garden parties in The City. Like Flag Teams in Petordan or Krewes of the Southern Cities, the Mummers Clubs called Rounds work all year to get ready for the big day, sewing costumes, arranging music and dance steps, and preparing themes and props.
In addition to ward (neighborhood) celebrations, there is a city wide one, where The Prance - The greatest of all parades at least according to the locals - weaves and bobs across the city.
Tradition groups The Rounds into four divisions. The Comics, decked out in rat tag costumes, continue the ancient traditions of clowning and lampoon. (Some say, it is just an excuse to start imbibing around sunrise. The Comics might do that, but it is only to keep warm they say). Next in The Prance comes The Fancy Rounds. Dressed in elaborate costumes that match their floats, they entertain the crowd with dance and song. Following them are the Notable Rounds. They will play some during The Prance. These musical groups will take up stations around the city and entertain folk all day long. Lastly prances The Speakers. Their floats show scenes from classic, not so classic, tales. Sometimes they will act out scenes, or entire plays, on their floats during The Prance. Most of the time, they sit there and wave. The Speakers will disembark from The Prance and go to their prepared stages. There they will give performances for the rest of the day and into the night. (Note: The ban on plays outside the hours proscribed by the city is one of the things the Watch, and even most of the clergy, winks at).
The Prance leads the folks into a true celebration of the New Year. (To be honest, this city’s celebration of The New Year’s Birth is quite tame to an outside observer, mostly because people know The Mummer’s Prance will be cavorting the next day.