Join in

Send page to a friend

3660 views since 11th March 2011

Related links:

Events | Lore & Legend | Rather Interesting | Cultural Britain

Featured Destination

April 2019: Hereford

April can be a tricky month for weather in Britain: surprisingly sunny days interspersed with spring showers. So a destination where the best of the ...More
More Uk destinations

Jack in the Green, Sussex

One of the many folkie revivals that have gone on to become established customs in themselves, the Jack in the Green event in Hastings is now a major draw for the town as regards visitors, as well as a special day for the townspeople.
Though those of a new age bent like to see the thing as a continuation of ancient celebrations of summerís coming all the misty way back to the Romans and the Celts, they are in all likelihood only partly correct, as the most plausible explanation of the custom links it to chimney sweeps having a good time on May Day, though still dating back to the 18th century, and possibly the century before. It seems that rival trade groups Ė milkmaids, sweeps, carters and so on Ė paraded in urban areas on May Day, and that the strange conical figure of Jack in the Green evolved from this, as a way of the sweeps outdoing the garb and garlands of all the rest.
The tradition died out by the beginning of the 20th century thanks to chimney climbing boy-sweeps no longer being allowed in the work, and the impact of Victorian stuffiness regarding traditional celebrations: dainty May Queens were in, drunken sweeps (and men dressed as women with them) were out.
Revived in Hastings in 1983 and taken ever onwards since then, the day there includes a procession from the Fishermanís Museum to the Castle , which at one or more points involves drinking beer merely for the sake of authenticity. In the procession along with the Jack are bogies - garlanded, green-faced and drumming; 12 foot giants with attendants; Morris sides; story-tellers and (inevitably) street entertainers. The event ends at the castle with the slaying of Jack by Morris dancers, and the distribution of twigs and leaves from him to the crowds Ė a bit confusing as the greenery in such processions is normally symbolic of summerís arrival rather than winterís departure. But itís fun, musical and noisy, and a good excuse for a pint or two.

More British Folk Customs?

If you like this, Share it

Brit Quote:
No man is useless while he has a friend. - Robert Louis Stevenson
More Quotes

On this day:
America Invades Whitehaven - 1778, Great Colchester Earthquake - 1884, Knox-Johnston completes first solo non stop voyage around the world - 1969
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages