Jack o' Lent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Jack 'o' Lent was a tradition in England in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries involving the abuse and burning of a straw effigy during the season of Lent, ending with its burning on Palm Sunday.

The effigy, made of straw or stuffed clothes,[1] was abused and stoned on Ash Wednesday while being dragged about the parish. The figure was kept until Palm Sunday, when it was burnt. Its burning was often believed to be a symbolic revenge on Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Christ. It is equally likely that the figure represented the hated winter and its destruction prepares the way for spring.[2] Jack 'o' Lent is mentioned in Thomas Heywood's The Four Prentices of London,[1] Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, Anthony Burgess' Nothing Like the Sun, Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews as well as in the 1640s pamphlet, The Arraignment Conviction and Imprisonment of Christmas.


  1. ^ a b Brand p.101
  2. ^ Frood & Graves p.10


  • Brand, John (1849). Observations on the popular antiquities of Great Britain: chiefly illustrating the origin of our vulgar and provincial customs, ceremonies, and superstitions. 1. Bohn. 
  • Frood, J.D. & Graves, M.A.R. Seasons And Ceremonies: Tudor-Stuart England 1558-1667. Elizabethan Promotions, 1992