Jack in the Green also known by Jack i' the Green, Jack o' the Green through-out Europe has become a participant of traditional English May Day parades and other May celebrations. He usually leads the parade through the villages around the square. He is seen wearing a large, leaf or foliage covered garland over or a framework covering his body from head to toe.
Jack, through time became associated with fertility rites, May Day celebrations and traditional Beltainne ceremonies. Because of the greenery and foliage that covers his body and face, he has became also associated with the Green Man. The Green Man represented the natural fertility, a spirit of primitive greenwood and also a trickster. Jack had connections with Puck, Robin Good fellow, Robin Hood and the Green Knight.
In the 16th & 17th centuries in England, people would make garlands of flowers and leaves for the May Day celebrations. The traditon of making the garlands became a source of competitions between different Work Guilds. The garlands became increasingly elaborate, covering the entire man which became known as Jack-in-the-Green. As I stated the Work Guilds would try to out do each other. The milkmaids in London would carry garlands on their heads with silver objects on them. The Chimney Sweepers took it to another level by covering the entire man with the garlands.
During the turn of the 19th century, the tradition of the Jack-in-the-Green started to disappear and became unpopular. The Victorians disapprove of the loud noises, partying and the bawdy atmosphere. The Lord and the Lady of the May was replaced by just a beautiful May Queen who was elected to be the centerpiece of the celebrations. The Jack-in-the-Green figure disappeared altogether.
In 1976, the figure of Jack-in-the-Green was brought back in Whitstable, Kent. He leads an annual procession of Morris Dancers through-out the town on the May Bank Holiday.
In Llfracombe, North Devon has had a Jack in their May Day procession and celebrations since 2000.
In Hastings, Jack is accompanied by attendants who are known as Bogies. Bogies are completely covered in green rags, vegetation and green face paint. The attendants play their music, dance and sing as they guide Jack through the streets, celebrating the coming of Summer.
As I did my research on this historical figure of our Pagan world, I found that many places in Europe and even North America is bringing back the tradition of having a Jack in their celebrations and parades. You know as well as I do. You can't keep a good thing down.