‘Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot’
That time is coming up again. Evenings creep in earlier, fireworks appear in the shops and firework displays are being advertised. It can be an exciting season, and it feels right to have this kind of celebration, as the cold sets in. But what is the history behind Bonfire Night UK and why does it strike such a chord in both adults and children?
HISTORY OF BONFIRE NIGHT
During the long reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st the Church of England was established, and Catholics were out of favour. However, in 1603 Good Queen Bess died, and the throne passed to James 1st. Catholics were now hopeful that their faith would again be respected, but they were disappointed. They began to scheme and plot, and came up with a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and along with them the King and his son.
The Gunpowder Plot was hatched, and on November 5th 1605 a band of conspirators piled gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament. But some of them were worried that innocent people were going to be killed and one of them sent an anonymous letter to one of the members of parliament, warning him to stay away. This letter was given to the king, who sent soldiers to investigate. One of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was caught red-handed beside the gunpowder. He was captured and the plot foiled.
GUY FAWKES AND BONFIRE NIGHT
Guy Fawkes is the person most associated with the history of Bonfire Night. He was treated with extreme brutality, and executed. In the years following, people celebrated the saving of the king, on November 5th. The event became a focus for anti-Catholic feeling, and effigies of powerful Catholics, as well as the Pope, were often burnt on the fires. Puritans gave sermons about the dangers of ‘popery’ and everyone was happy because they believed their way of life was saved.
It was only gradually that the full details of the plot were revealed. That is when people started making effigies of Guy Fawkes, to burn on their bonfires. That idea caught on with children, who took great pleasure in making the best Guy they could and then showing it to adults, door-to-door or on street corners, saying ‘Penny for the Guy!’. The money they collected went towards fireworks. This custom is not practised as frequently now as it was in the 20th Century.
WHERE IS BONFIRE NIGHT CELEBRATED
Bonfire Night UK is naturally celebrated in Britain. It was also transported by settlers to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and some Caribbean nations. Such overseas celebrations have largely died out. However, despite Health & Safety laws, Bonfire Night is still enthusiastically celebrated through the length and breadth of Britain, although comparatively few events actually fall on November Fifth.
Schools, councils and public organisations hold firework displays and bonfires as fund-raising occasions, often serving burgers, toffee apples and hot chocolate, to make it more enjoyable, and raise extra money. There are sometimes fun-fairs linked to these events, which could be any time from the third week in October to second week of November. The day may be chosen carefully so as not to compete directly with other local displays.
BONFIRE NIGHT 2015-10-14
Between the 5th and 7th November you can find many firework festivals in the London area. The appeal of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night is proved by the number and variety of events scheduled. Check out the Net and local media to find out what’s on near you.
Even better, have your own party! There’s nothing quite like fireworks in your own back garden to add excitement for young children. Make sure to keep pets indoors, and drown out the bangs and fizzes by putting on an extractor fan and/or playing music. Needless to say, always observe safety regulations.
BONFIRE NIGHT EVENTS
In latter years Bonfire Night has spread, merging with Halloween, at the end of October, to make an extended, creepy festival. There are many people who say Halloween has been imported from America, but it also links with the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, (Pronounced ‘Sa-ween’), meaning ‘summer’s end.’ This festival celebrates the powers of darkness, as holding keys to fertility and creativity. This is symbolically represented by the dark November night, set alight with fireworks.
At Samhain, purifying bonfires were lit. Sacrifices were often made to pacify dark gods, for winter was coming in and people were afraid. Sometimes this sacrifice was actually the tribal king, who gave his life for the sake of his people. It’s interesting that nowadays we have a would-be king-slayer on top of the bonfire, not the king himself!
Part of the pleasure of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night is affirming our own ability to enjoy life – subconsciously increased by knowing that we are not any kind of sacrifice, and that the winter months will not hold terrors.
Some scholars deny that Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night have anything to do with old pagan customs, or Halloween. However, the link seems very obvious. It just ‘feels right’ to mark the start of winter with something dramatic and edgy, as a rite of passage.
BONFIRE NIGHT UK CHEERS UP THE DARKNESS
In this article we have looked at the history of Bonfire Night, where Bonfire Night is celebrated, and looked at some possible deeper meanings. Bonfire night events can raise your spirits when the long, dark evenings are here. However, sometimes it isn’t that easy, and you need some insight and encouragement. At TheCircle you can always contact a Psychic or Medium who can help you. Benefit from a Psychic Reading, check your Horoscope, get some advice, insight and support. A Clairvoyant Reading can show ways to move forwards, so make contact with us without delay
PUBLISHED: 03 NOVEMBER 2015