Definition of mummers' play in English:

mummers' play

(also mumming play)


  • A traditional English folk play, of a type often associated with Christmas and popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The plot typically features Saint George and involves the miraculous resurrection of a character.

    • ‘They cite the occurrence of combat between heroes and death and resurrection as precursors of mummers' plays, but do not give any proof to substantiate this statement.’
    • ‘The enduring appeal of the mummers' play is obvious from the popularity of today's many revivals; this is the ideal book to lead anyone who has enjoyed a performance into a deeper understanding of what it is they have seen’
    • ‘As often in the mummers' plays, that action has pitted St George against the Turkish Knight, who is slain and duly brought back to life by the Quack Doctor.’
    • ‘The mummers' plays, and unique performances such as the Abbots Bromley horn dance, were also fitted into the ritual side.’
    • ‘We do not yet fully understand how the mumming play arose in practice and how it spread so rapidly across a large swathe of Great Britain in such a limited period of time.’
    • ‘There's also a lot of interest in customs, like the mummers' plays, including the one performed at Heptonstall, and in the traditional songs of the Ridings.’