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date: 25 April 2024

Jack-in-the-Green. 

Source:
A Dictionary of English Folklore
Author(s):
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 ... ...

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