There are a few different visiting protocols in Newfoundland and Labrador. My people usually engaged in a haphazard visiting procedure.
My parents called it 'touching in'. It is also referred to as 'dropping in' or 'popping in'. The results are the same in each case.
Generally speaking, when my Mom said "...we are just going to touch in for a few minutes..." it meant, "The lights are on. We are going in. We have no idea what to expect. We may be there 5 minutes. We may be there 5 hours." Good times!
We modern folk like to have a bit more control of visiting. We lean towards 'nouveau haphazard'; sorta like haphazard on a schedule. We actually organize a specific day when it is to happen. It is often called an "Open House" and visitors are given a time window in which it would be acceptable to haphazardly drop in for a visit. You even get an invitation (and, if you don't, you'd be best advised not to go). Extremely civilized...and clever, necessary even, in these times of increased organization.
Mummering rules are simple: get a few people together, dress up in a disguise, go to a friend's house, make music and act the fool until someone recognizes you, at which point you reveal your identity. And...this is an important part, you are fed food and syrup (or something stronger) the entire time! Brilliant really. From the perspective of someone who plays, um...shall we say 'rustic' music, it is a great chance to practice and get paid in nutritional supplements. No flies on those ol' timers!
All of this visiting is what makes Christmas special. And each type has its own charm. You can be certain that the more of it that you engage in, the better you will feel. You can also be certain that Christmas never ends in my house before Old Christmas Day so, if you are in the area, be sure to touch in if the lights are on.
And on a side note, should you see a few mummers on your step next year that resemble the crowd in these pictures, please let us in!