Also known as Guy Fawkes Night, this is an annual celebration observed on the 5th of November majorly in Great Britain.
This night known as the Bonfire or Firework Night commemorates the prevention of the act of blowing up the Houses of Parliament back in the year 1605. It’s the anniversary of the foiling of a plot that was conspired by a group of English Catholic protesters to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London.
Many people celebrate this day by lighting fireworks and bonfires and thus the names. Even though it has a political and patriotic significance, this day is not a public holiday and business organizations, schools are open and functioning as usual.
Public transportations work according to their general routines and time tables. In the upcoming year, it’s going to be observed on the 5th of November, 2019 and it falls on a Tuesday.
Origin And History
This day has its origins that can be traced back to as early as the year 1605 when the Gunpowder Plot took place. This was a failed attempt by a group of English Catholic conspirators that wanted to murder Protestant King James the first of England and assign a Catholic head of the state in his place.
This plot was headed by Guy Fawkes who was arrested on the night of 5th November while he was guarding a cache of explosives placed under the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes also had the name Guido Fawkes that he had adopted when he was fighting for the Spanish. They had planned to blow up the Parliament along with King James and other parliament members inside.
The conspirators were then arrested, tortured and eventually executed. Just a few days prior to their execution in January, an act known as the “Thanksgiving Act” was passed by the Parliament after being proposed by the Parliament member Edward Montagu. He proposed that the divine intervention that saved their king must be thanked for and made church attendance compulsory on the 5th of November i.e. on the Thanksgiving Day henceforth.
The earliest celebrations started with music and artillery salutes and the celebrations of 1607 involved more than 106 pounds of gunpowder and 14 pounds of matchsticks. In later years, sermons were read, church bells were rung and bonfires and fireworks were lit. The essence of Guy Fawkes Day were carried onto the overseas colonies by immigrates. One such example is that of the Guy Fawkes Day that was carried to North America where it began to be celebrated as Pope Day.
A majorly common activity of this day is the lighting of bonfires and fireworks. There are extravagant firework displays all over Great Britain on the 5th of November every year. Also, as it takes place during the end of autumn season, people take it as an opportunity to burn up all of their garden rubbish.
Some of the people indulge in lighting of their own small bonfires in their gardens while others take part in the large ones in the communal spaces. In some of the towns and cities, this festival holds so much importance that the government engages in hosting of large and grand firework displays and bonfires for all the people residing.
Due to its close observance date to another popular festival “Halloween”, sometimes a combined celebration for Guy Fawkes Night and Halloween take place. These parties include customs of both the festivals like both bonfires are lit and people dress up in scary costumes. Guy Fawkes was a Catholic and hence on this day, many Catholics abstain from such celebrations and enjoyment. Popular foods for this day include bonfire toffee, roasted marshmallows, toffee apples, sticky date pudding and potatoes and other food baked in the ashes of the fire. The fireworks being the star of this festival also have certain drawbacks.
These include many injuries and sometimes can lead to even deaths if the fireworks used are used incorrectly or are of faulty manufacturing. So now, it’s become an essential task to employ safe patrollers and campaigners to keep a lookout on the efficient and restricted sale of fireworks to the common public. Another popular act of this day is burning of effigies of Fawkes. They are burnt on the bonfires and it’s accompanied with the popular rhythm ‘Remember Remember the Fifth of November’ being sung. People also host a bonfire party, invite friends and family, and make all sorts of camping tidbits and barbeques. Non-alcoholic beverages like coffee, hot chocolate, warm fruit drinks and punches are also welcome. Make sure to keep the contact numbers of the local police station, hospitals and fire station handy on this night.