Jack in the Green Festival

Jack in the Green Tradition

During the 16th and 17th centuries, flower garlands were a popular form of headwear and individuals tried to outdo each other with their garland designs. By the late 18th century, chimney sweeps made garlands in frameworks that covered their whole bodies. The garlands were so impressive they became costumes in their own right and became known as ‘Jack in the Green’ which was paraded in Hastings until 1983.  However, the parade stopped in 1889 when an Act was passed to prevent children working as chimney sweeps. Nevertheless, in 1983, the Mad Jacks Morris Dancers revived the ‘Jack in the Green’ tradition which takes place on Bank Holiday Monday in the old town of Hastings in May.  This custom is part of a four day festival, known as the ‘Jack in the Green May Day Festival’ and is one of the biggest gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.