May Day, May Day: Jack in the Green

IMG_2181Today is May 2, and while  May 1 is traditionally May Day, I figured the second day of May was close enough to honor the upcoming season of fecundity and the bounty of summer  But I must thank Sophie from Agents of Field for not only bringing May Day to my attention but also for providing additional information of the celebration, information I did not know.

May Day, of course, started as a holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures, and it marked the first day of summer.  May Day was a time for frolicking and folderol, a time to cut loose after winter’s confines and, I expect, its food scarcity. (Let’s just say that in Maine, May 1 is barely the beginning of spring, and between the cool weather and the blackflies, there’s not much inducement for frolicking. Nevertheless, I admire the spirit!)

In her post May Day Festivities, Sophie writes about “sprinting onto the lawn in my pjs and smearing May Day dew on my face which, according to ancient folklore, will guarantee lifelong beauty…”  That was a new one for me, and although it’s probably too late, I sprinkled dew—all right, rain drops—from the cedars onto my face after I took a May Day picture of a hyacinth in bloom.


Then Sophie went on to write about Jack in the Green, a pagan character dressed in a cone of greenery. She tried to get her partner Ade to be Jack in the Green so that she could chase him up a hill and beat him with twigs. Apparently, Ade turned down the role, and after reading more about Jack’s leafy character, whom I knew nothing about, I understood why Ade was reluctant to play this fellow of the foliage.

Ah, the wonders of the Internet. From Agents of Field I skipped to Jack in the Green May Day Festival in Hastings, UK, where I learned about Jack’s dark fate. In Hastings, the Jack in the Green Festival is an annual event and ends with “the slaying of Jack, to release the spirit of summer for this year.”  (Readers, if you have a chance, watch the short video of the parade on the Hastings’s website.  Looks like quite the parade and one worth seeing.)

Oh, the merry month of May! In Maine, even though the weather is not quite as warm as we would like, it is a month of green beauty trimmed with a veil of flowering trees. It is a month in which to rejoice.

My friend Burni sends May greeting cards. What a lovely thing to do! If I can get my  gardening under control, maybe I’ll do the same thing.

And I’ll watch out for Jack in the Green. Perhaps, out of the corner of my eye, I will catch a glimpse of him, streaking through the countryside as he is pursued by a fair woman ready to beat him with twigs.


6 thoughts on “May Day, May Day: Jack in the Green”

    1. Judy, you’re most welcome. Keep an eye out for that green man 😉

    1. You’re most welcome. So interesting to learn about Jack in the Green. I’d never heard of him.

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