Stalham Brass Band end year on a high note

Norman Lamb MP - band Vice President - drops in to help collecting at Stalham Tesco on Saturday. Pic

Norman Lamb MP - band Vice President - drops in to help collecting at Stalham Tesco on Saturday. Picture: TIM THIRST - Credit: TIM THIRST

After spreading the Christmas spirit to communities around Norfolk since November it's time for the musicians from the Stalham Brass Band - under director of music Tim Thirst - to have a well-earned break from Mumping.

Jasmine Thirst, Joseph Dann and Imarni Dann ‘mumping’ with the Stalham Brass Band this Christmas. Pi

Jasmine Thirst, Joseph Dann and Imarni Dann ‘mumping’ with the Stalham Brass Band this Christmas. Picture: TIM THIRST - Credit: TIM THIRST

The band - which now numbers 28 players and 23 in its training section - has played at Street Fairs, Care Homes, Community carol concerts and carol services around the county as well as five weekends outside the Stalham Tesco store.

Carol playing by the local brass band - or mumping as it is known in many areas - has been a part of Christmas for the Stalham Brass Band for over 150 years.

The term mumping originates from St. Thomas's Day - December 21, the shortest day of the year - which was also known as Mumping Day, when the poor went begging to the homes of wealthy landowners, probably singing to increase their appeal.

In Norfolk those going singing door-to-door, were known as Mumpers. In other parts of the country it is known as 'going gooding', 'going Thomasing' and 'going Tommying'.

A carol concert at Sydney House residential care home Stalham. Picture: TIM THIRST

A carol concert at Sydney House residential care home Stalham. Picture: TIM THIRST - Credit: TIM THIRST


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Mumping probably took the place of the ancient tradition of Wassailing. The word Wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon greeting Wæs þu hæl, meaning be thou hale - be in good health.

In more recent times the term hale and hearty can still be found in use. Wassailing was usually carried out in January and the Lord of the Manor gave food and drink to the peasants who visited him, singing incantations for good health and a bountiful harvest in the year ahead.

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This is mentioned in the carol We Wish you a Merry Christmas, where the singers demand their figgy pudding and the other traditional favourite played by the band Here We Come A Wassailing.

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