Irish Christmas mumming, the subject of this carefully researched and beautifully written book, is approached in Part I through the recollections of four old people of the hamlet of Ballymenone who recall the mumming from their youth. In Part II, the author examines the form and function of the mummers' play, showing that—contrary to the theories of some folklorists—it is not a truncated fragment of a much larger whole but a complete "presentational" statement. He shows how the mummers' play functioned as a means of drawing the community closer together and as an expression of dangers and hopes in the potentially bitter Ulster situation.
Glassie's study treats fully the social and cultural context of the mummers' play. It is a superb study, of obvious value to folklorists, but also of interest to literary critics, literary historians, anthropologists, and others.