A man for all seasons

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The Green Man mystery is a great way to involve children in caring for and investigating trees and woodlands, says Christine Lee.

The Green Man is an ancient symbol connected with woodlands, a face peering through leaves, often with foliage growing from his mouth and nose. He is found in mediaeval churches, carved on ceilings in stone or wood; in ancient temples in India and Iraq; on door lintels in Borneo; in Roman mosaics; and more recently in Victorian civic buildings. Today he is an increasingly common sight on wall plaques for sale in garden centres, at craft fairs, at traditional celebrations for May Day and mid-winter – even on business logos and pub signs. He has also been adopted as a symbol by modern environmental and spiritual movements.

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