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The People of Hastings Still Do May Day the Traditional Way

With Morris dancing druids rather than angry anti-capitalists.

by Stuart Griffiths
08 May 2013, 4:00pm

May Day has been celebrated in the UK for hundreds of years. Until the last century or so, celebrations mostly involved Morris dancing and people making clothes out of leaves to celebrate the coming of spring – a bit like a modern village fete, but slightly more pagan and with less teenagers in Kappa pop-ups trying to convince strangers to buy them scrumpy. However, more recently, the whole beginning of a new season thing seems to have been totally displaced in favour of anti-capitalists and people from unions shouting about stuff and occasionally scrapping with the police.

One place keeping things traditional, though, is Hastings in East Sussex, where groups with names like Hannah's Cat, the Lovely Ladies and the Gay Bogies meet for the "Jack in the Green" every May bank holiday weekend. On the Monday, a load of people dressed in weird pagan costumes hold a procession through the town and up to West Hill, where Jack – an effigy made out of leaves and flowers – is "slain". The Hastings tradition was revived in 1983, making this year its 30th anniversary. I went along to take some pictures.

More May Day stuff:

May Day in Berlin Was a Playground for Happy Idiots

Spending May Day with Britain's Newest Political Party

I Went to Montreal May Day and All I Got Was Tear-Gassed 

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