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Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green Morris Dancing Festival
From: 2014.05.03 To: 2014.05.06
A surreal long weekend of dancing is what the Jack-in-the-Green Morris Festival is known for. The roots of this event are said to be in the 16th and 17th century celebrations of May Day. People back then would make elaborate garlands with each trying to out do the other. In the 18th century this became a matter of competitions and one of them turned out so big that it covered the entire man and thus was from then on known as Jack in the Green. In Hastings there were at least two groups who paraded a Jack in the Green until about 1889. By the turn of the century the custom was seen no more. This happened for a couple reasons: the Act which stopped boys climbing chimneys had been passed and these had been the main performers; secondly the Victorians had a different attitude to such customs, the prettification of customs took place, no more the giant maypoles with drunken and promiscuous behaviour, instead replaced by small poles imported from Germany with happy skipping children around them. The Lord and Lady of the May with their practical joking were replaced by a pretty May Queen. Certainly there was no place for the drunken noisy Jack in the Green. The custom was revived in Hastings by Mad Jacks Morris Dancers in 1983. Today it is said that Jack is returned, he is not the property of a small group of dancers, but belongs to us all. Long may he dance!