The normally stiff, staid, sensible English don’t have much of a tradition of wild festivals. No Carnivale as in Venice or Rio. No running with the bulls or Oktoberfest. No pelting each other with tomatoes. Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace is regarded as letting their hair down.
So Jack in the Green is an exception.
It seemed an appropriate entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Green.
Every May Bank Holiday weekend, the historic town of Hastings is invaded by morris dancers, bogies (half man, half bush, half beer), chimney sweeps, giants and the Christmas tree on legs, Jack in the Green.
There’s some serious competition between the teams (sorry, ‘sides’, I believe) of morris men and maids, climaxing in the parade through the streets of the Old Town and up to the castle with the Jack.
I’m a sucker for folkie traditions, and if morris dancing is one of the silliest forms of dance yet devised, it’s also one of the most enjoyable, for participants and spectators. It requires no great precision or physical agility (someone’s going to tell me I’m underestimating its demands, but hey, it’s not Riverdance.) Even the tunes are so easy to play that a basic fiddler like me can master them.
Morris dancing does require energy, a sense of humour and a complete lack of fear of looking foolish in a public place.
Long live Jack in the Green and long may ye dance!
The writer was a guest of 1066 Country Tourism.