mumming play

or mummers' play

Traditional dramatic entertainment. Mumming plays, which feature the death of a champion who is restored to life by a doctor, are still performed in a few villages of England and Northern Ireland. Originally mummers were bands of masked persons who during winter festivals in Europe paraded through the streets and entered houses to dance or play dice in silence. Thus the name has been connected with words such as mumble and mute and non-English words meaning “mask.” Mumming plays probably have links with primitive ceremonies marking important stages in the agricultural year.

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