The first of the month, May Day, in England is often associated with parades and protest, country carnivals and Bank holidays and peculiar pagan ceremonies wrapped in obscure folklore and tradition.
One such tradition, which has actually enjoyed a revival in certain parts of the country since the mid 1980’s, is ‘The Jack in The Green’ procession where the ‘Jack’, a man inside a frame, decorated head to toe with foliage, garlands and flowers, is accompanied by a party of musicians and sundry supporters to celebrate the beginning of summer. I have included a couple of photographs to give you a visual idea of this rather eccentric English custom.
A local group to me, known as The Fowler’s Troop and the Deptford Jack in The Green, have played out this good humoured, spirited charade for many years and boast one of the tallest and heaviest modern ‘Jacks’. This May Day, dressed in Edwardian costume, the minstrels and like minded revellers paraded the ‘Jack’ through the old neighbourhood of Greenwich, beginning and ending at the same pub, and stopping for a pint or something stronger at regular intervals along the route.