mumming play, form of drama developed in England in the early 17th cent., based on the legend of St. George and the dragon. The central theme of the play is the death and resurrection of the hero. The mumming play possibly evolved from some primitive folk celebration. However, it is most closely associated with the medieval sword dance, which symbolized the reawakening of the earth from the death of winter. During the Christmas season a few English villages still present the mumming play.
See A. Brody, English Mummers and Their Plays (1971).
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