Green George Festival

Green George Festival

April 23
Observed on St. George's Day, April 23, by Romany people (also known as gypsies) in Transylvania, the Green George Festival is a tree-spirit festival in which folkloric beliefs play a major role. A young willow is cut down, decorated with flowers and leaves, and set up in a central place where everyone can see it. Pregnant women may leave a piece of clothing under the tree; if a leaf falls on it by the next morning, they'll have an easy delivery. Sick or elderly people spit on the tree three times, praying for long life and good health.
On April 24, an old custom is for a boy dressed in green leaves and flowers to take three iron nails that have spent three days and three nights in running water, hammer them into the willow, pull them out, and throw them back into the stream. In the evening, Green George appears as a leaf-clad puppet who is also thrown into the stream.
Green George is believed to be a variation on the medieval English Jack in the Green. A relic of European tree worship, Jack in the Green is associated with Pentecost and other celebrations of spring. On May Day in England, he appeared as a boy (typically a chimneysweep) encased in a framework of lath and hoops covered with ivy and holly and wearing a high headdress of leaves.
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 534, 954