The May Day parade in our small town is always led by the same three characters: first comes the Marshal, mounted on a gleamingly groomed horse, followed by the Town Crier ringing a bell and calling “O-yez”. Behind him comes Jack-in-the-Green, a walking tree mounted on a wood and wire frame. It’s all very English.
Jack is my favourite character as he represents the pagan origins of May Day celebrations. I wonder, each year, what sort of shoes the person in Jack’s green costume might be wearing. This year the shoes were hardly visible. I spotted a flash of sensible brown leather. Maybe the days of the white trainers and socks, which in years past have provided chuckles of amusement for the watching crowd, are over.
The Green Man, who Jack-in-the-Green represents, is pagan but his image appears in Christian churches around the world.
I always look out for him when visiting a church or cathedral on my travels. He was sitting high up in the wooden beams of Bridlington Priory in Yorkshire, his face a carved roof boss.