Jack in the Green is a much loved May Day tradition, celebrated in Hastings. Originating from the 16th Century, Jack in the Green was a May Day celebration that become popular with Works Guilds; revellers would fashion a small crown from flowers and foliage – a tradition that grew increasingly competitive with flower crowns getting bigger and better than their neighbours’ each year. This continued until everyone was basically covered from head to toe in foliage! For some reason, chimney sweeps were all over this tradition as the green really complimented their dirty, sooty faces (which I believe is why some of you Hastionians don sooty faces for Jack in the Green too!)
For those of you who are new to Hastings or will be visiting for the May Bank Holiday, here’s what you need to do:
(1) Depending on how elaborate you want to be, you basically need to wear green, put green on your nose, or soot on your face, make a flower or foliage crown, or go all out and cover yourself in ivy.
(2) Prepare for the sound of loud motorcycle engines – basically, everyone who has a motorbike in the entire planet, heads for Hastings on the Sunday. The sound, the smell and the procession is amazing.
(3) Go out and be merry.
Here’s a run-down on the weekend’s festivities and itinerary:
Friday 1st May
4:30am – Hardcore Morris Dancers will be ‘Dancing in the Dawn’ on West Hill and you are welcome to join in!
8:.00pm – The Cajun Dawgs will be playing at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church Crypt
Or all day – head to The Stag for folk sessions.
Saturday 2nd May
12:00pm – Morris Dancing will start at midday on Winkle Island.
2:00pm – Rattlebag, for their seventh year, will be playing at The Stag.
8:00pm – The Climax Ceilidh Band will be playing at St. Mary in the Castle.
Sunday 3rd May
10:00am – Morris dancing, musicians and a service at Saint Clements Church.
Afternoon – The Crowning of the Queen takes place on the bandstand in Alexandra Park.
4:00pm – The Drum Off, Butler’s Gap, George Street.
8:00pm – The Big Squeeze will be playing in The Cinque Ports pub.
Monday 4th May AKA ‘The Big One’
10:00am – Jack is released! From the Fisherman’s Museum, Jack will emerge.
A procession will then make it’s way through the Old Town, breaking for “refreshments” along the way.
12:00pm – The procession will end up on West Hill at around midday.
12:30pm – Jack will arrive.
3:30pm – They slay him.
In summary – The entire weekend and the whole town will be a combination of music, laughter, excitement, drumming, engines, green people and copious amounts of food and drink.
What could be better this May Day than Hastings Jack in the Green 2015?
Visit the official Jack in the Green website.