The effects of lockdown in the UK have seen all events cancelled from mid-March 2020 until the foreseeable future. As a result, the folk celebrations usually seen in the UK have not been able to go ahead in the usual manner. Social distancing rules mean that large scale gatherings are banned, so community folk groups have had to employ ingenuity to keep the events calendar alive, with many turning to online and digital platforms.
In the UK, the yearly calendar is steeped in traditional customs and folklore, with many of the associated events playing key parts in the lives of individuals and communities. For the Pagan community, the summer solstice on 21st June is one of the most important events of the year. In normal circumstances, thousands of people would gather at Stonehenge, the site of a neolithic stone circle, in order to celebrate the summer solstice at the sacred spot. Unfortunately, this year’s meet-up celebration was cancelled in order to adhere to social distancing rules. However, this didn’t stop the event from going ahead, with live streams of the sunset and sunrise appearing on social media. Streaming the event meant that those who would usually attend were able to do so, in some capacity at least, albeit virtually.
The Jack in the Green is a popular calendar custom that takes place on or close to May Day and is celebrated in different areas throughout England. Jack in the Green has a long history and it’s origins as a May Day festival have been traced as far back as 1640 by folklorist Roy Judge. Judge examines every historical mention to Jack in the Green or any associated symbolism and concludes that the festival we see today originated during the folk revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This is the case for many of the folk customs, traditions, and events that exist in the UK today, for whom we have key folklorist individuals such as Cecil Sharpe, Sabine Baring-Gould, and Ralph Vaughan Williams to thank. It is especially important to consider the origins of folk customs and events when analysing expressions of folklore during lockdown in 2020; there has been a conscious continuation of what Warshaver and Trubshaw refer to as Level 2 folklore.  Rather than cancel the event entirely, Jack in the Green processions were moved online, much in the same way as the summer solstice at Stonehenge. One of the biggest celebrations of Jack in the Green takes place in Hastings on the south coast of England. The day acts as a community celebration whilst also creating an economic boom amongst local businesses, due to the vast numbers of tourists who visit the town especially to see or take part in the procession. In order to keep the spirit of Jack in the Green alive during lockdown, a local art project encouraged the immediate community to participate in a creative collaboration that ‘asked local people who love the festival to design a leaf which will be used to create a huge collaborative picture to celebrate the four day festival‘. The unveiling of the artwork took place on the 3rd May and be seen in the video below.
The organisers of the festival encouraged people to take part by dressing up at home and participating in processions that were held remotely over social media. A huge charity incentive was also introduced which saw donations being made to the NHS; this is something echoed by many other folk festivals and customs that went online, including the various Morris dancing troops that exist throughout the country. The interaction between folklore and fundraising has really shown that folklore can be used as a force for good, whilst also reiterating the important role that folklore plays in society. Folklore, whether it be in the form of familial traditions, art and craft, or festivals, is vital for morale when we are faced with trying times and will continue to uplift communities and individuals when it’s needed most.
 Roy Judge, ‘The Jack in the Green’, (London, UK: FLS BOOKS, The Folklore Society, 2000), p. 84
 Bob Trubshaw, ‘Explore Folklore’, (Loughborough, UK: Heart of Albion Press, 2002), p. 127