“In whatever proportions, mumming clearly depended on a mixture of playfulness and a sense of danger: both are necessary, but either might be dominant. Mumming brings the unknown (whether real or pretended) to interact with the familiar. This may be felt as a threat, welcomed as a liberating release for host as well as mummer, affectionately accepted as customary, or any combination of the three.”

(Meg Twycross and Sarah Carpenter, Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England)

There are many different types of mummers or guisers, especially when you look at all of Europe throughout the history of the practices. However, some rough categories can be discerned, although there is of course a lot of overlap.

Wild Men


Monsters & Devils

Green Men

Straw Men/Bears



Tatters & Grim Faces


Hobby Horses

Mast Animals

There are also very specific traditions which involve particular costumes, activities, etc.; I have included several below. Each one is complicated enough to be the subject of its own book, but I have provided links to some information to begin with.

And a few related customs: