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Contrary to popular belief the image of the green man does not originate in Celtic culture. It is part of the roman tradition of sculpture, and was imported north.
The image became popular in the Medieval period, when foliated heads were commonly attached to churches: exterior or interior, it was featured on capitals, corbels, choir stalls, bench ends, fonts, screens, roof bosses – indeed, any surface open to ornamentation.
It died out with the Reformation, but was later picked up by the Victorians and associated with the Celtic Revival and so “Celt-ified’. The idea of a forest deity is common to many cultures.
The Greenman is also associated, especially in England, with Jack-in-the-green, a traditional figure from May Day celebrations who was generally swathed in garlands or leafy boughs. Some were involved in mock sacrifice, where the leafy framework was thrown or ducked into a pond or river (sometimes with the person still inside it).