Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 April 2024


A Dictionary of English Folklore
Jacqueline SimpsonJacqueline Simpson, Steve RoudSteve Roud

An urban street calendar custom enacted on May Day by chimneysweeps. The sweeps dressed up in their finery, if they had any, with added ribbons; one dressed as the Lord, another as a Lady, and one or two as clowns. They had musicians and carried a brush and shovel which they clashed together rhythmically, and a regular feature was a donkey for one of them to ride. The character that really got the audience's attention was the Jack-in-the-Green, a man inside a wood or basketwork frame, from well above his head to his ankles, on which was fixed an abundance of greenery and flowers. The visual effect was a conical-shaped bush on feet, which danced. In the earlier period, the sweeps would be accompanied by their boys, whose capering and antics were popular with the crowds, but the boys disappeared from the scene after public opinion turned against the use of children in the trade. References become fewer and fewer after the 1850s, and descriptions tend to stress the drunkenness, tawdriness, and vulgarity of the proceedings rather than its quaintness. The Victorian drive towards the invented ... ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.