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Newfies, Mummers, and a Kitchen Party

I took a trip from Buffalo, NY through the Canadian Maritimes, as far north as Red Bay, Labrador, with my husband, mother, and grandmother. I could never have prepared myself for how absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous the scenery was. Newfoundland literally took my breath away with some of the most gorgeous natural landscapes I have ever seen.

And the people were just as fantastic. Oh, the Newfies. What spectacularly nice, inviting, delightful people. I'm not kidding. I'm talking apple pie innocent, preacher's wife nice, and happy hour at a retirement home fun. Fabulous people! The people of St Anthony don't care about keeping up with the Jones' or buying designer things. Anything not bought online is bought in the one store there. Yes, ONE store.

And they are so happy. Everyone we came across was truly happy. It was remarkable how wonderful the people were.

We checked in to our hotel and headed for Tim Horton's. Now, if you have never been to Tim Horton's that you have no idea what you are missing. It's like Dunkin Donuts but really, really good. They even made a special doughnut for the Iceberg Festival. While we were buying our iceberg doughnut we met a nice local man that was in a band. He invited us to the kitchen party that he was playing at. Since we had never been to a kitchen party, or heard traditional Newfoundland music, we decided we must go.

We had no idea what to expect at a traditional kitchen party. Turns out, it was the most fun of the trip! We were handed a drink the first thing when we walked in the door. And not just any drink, but Iceberg vodka with a piece of an actual iceberg in it! It was so cold and delicious. It was a perfect drink.

The music started playing so we headed to a table to sit down. The music was traditional Newfoundland folk music. A few men were playing the guitar, drums, and accordion. Anyone could get up and play the ugly stick. Yes, it really is called the ugly stick. It’s a mop, with a face drawn on, a boot on the bottom, and some bottle caps that make noise when she shake and bang the stick.

Our biggest problem was trying to understand some of the accents, especially if they were speaking “Newfoundese.” Do yourself a favor and search YouTube for a Newfie speaking “Newfoundese.” Especially if they are saying, “How ya gettin on by ye old trout?” (their way of asking a female how it’s going) or “God love ya cotton socks” (I’m still not exactly sure what that means). The man playing the accordion had such a thick accent that I could not understand a thing he said. I mentioned his accent to the lady next to me, and it turned out that in 30 years of being his neighbor, she still couldn’t figure out what he was saying.

They had a couple funny skits and then came the mummers! A mummer is a person dressed up in costume that traditionally comes around Christmas, going house to house like carolers, only you drink with them. Apparently, they can get you pretty drunk.

So we were lucky when they showed up at the party, since it was June. They danced, I danced with them, we shook the ugly stick, and they left. Writing this now, it really does seem ridiculous but I swear it’s all true.

I’m so lucky that I had the chance to experience Newfoundland and this city girl can’t wait to go back!


Profile photo of Patricia Bath

Travel nurse turned travel lover. Picky gastronome with a side of wino. J'adore photography and culture.If I had a superpower it would be to speak every language in the world, so I would never get lost looking for the bathroom.

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