Albert Gold, Mummers
Each New Year’s Day, costumed Philadelphians march down Broad Street: this is the Mummers Parade, a time-honored civic event and one of the oldest folk festivals in the United States. While the first official mummer parade was in 1901, the origins of American mummery date back to the traditions of seventeenth-century European immigrants. Mummers are typically associated with the working classes of South Philadelphia. Etymologically, the term mummer refers to Momus, the personification of mockery and satire. Mummers wear elaborate costumes and perform in groups.
In this closely cropped scene, Gold portrays mummers adorned in extravagant costumes, exaggerated makeup, and cone hats, and the overall mood is festive. Gold frequently took everyday life in Philadelphia as his subject, often focusing on the bleaker aspects of urban living. Here, however, he portrays a scene of celebration for the city’s residents.