Sunday, May 07, 2017

Jack In The Green

 ♫ Dance with me Jack, dance along the highway ♪

Jack In The Green is one of those English traditions where no one is really sure where it came from or what it represented, although now it is usually associated with the Green Man, the coming of summer, and fertility.

Once a part of most May Day celebrations, it faded away in the early 20th century. These traditions have a habit of re-appearing, sometimes in a slightly different form, and so it was with the Jack In The Green. In Bristol it has been revived, and Jack dances along the highways once more.

Jack is a huge, garlanded figure, with a face poking from between the foliage that adorns him. At the top he is crowned with flowers and ribbons. He dances through the streets, before "dying" in a sacrificial ritual on one of Bristol's pieces of common ground. His leaves and flowers are taken away by onlookers, to hold on to a little bit of his magic.

I could only join Jack's procession for a little while, following his green clad attendants as they bashed their sticks together and sang. They sang a song about the Jack, and the passing of the seasons, from snowfall to summer.

It was magical, somehow even more so for being juxtaposed with the urban streets we processed along. Nature is everywhere, ritual is good, and as much as they may fade out for a little while, these celebrations of the seasons will always find a way to come back.

(You can find out more about Bristol Jack In The Green on their website-


  1. I loved this post Polly as I adore folklore so this was great to read about and discover something new as I hadn't heard of this! Loved your photos as well. - Tasha

  2. It's wonderful to see magic returning to the world! Jack is such a bewitching figure.

  3. Wow, what an amazing tradition! I wish they held an event like this near me. It looks so wonderful and I'd love to take part in something like this. The Jack reminds me of a character from a Studio Ghibli movie, like a spirit of the forest <3

    Sarah | Raiin Monkey