06 November 2011

Guy Fawkes Night

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

I had plans of hiking near Chiddingfold yesterday
to capture the building of their annual bonfire

But with mud and a grey sky that doesn't bode well for photography,
I skipped it

Yesterday ended with sun and puddles

Rain in England varies between 
a gentle drizzle so soft you can't feel it
to a 'gully washer'

Interestingly, thunder and lightning are rare

Since we turned our clocks back last week
{ a week before the US }
the sky starts to darken at 3:30p

Although Halloween is not really celebrated here,
Guy Fawkes Night certainly is

'Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!'
{ first stanza of English nursery rhyme }

This is THE holiday in England where people congregate 
for bonfires, sparklers, fireworks, games, mulled wine, food, 
and merriment

Over the weekend
'Bonfire Night' will occur in backyards, schools and municipalities across England

Aside from 'one-off' occasions 
{ i.e. street parties for the 2010 Royal Wedding }
Bonfire Night is the only holiday that brings people out of their homes
to mingle among neighbors and strangers

Bonfires are built with garden waste, furniture, fencing - whatever

An effigy of Guy Fawkes, like a scarecrow, is created 

It is a tradition for children to show their Guy effigy to neighbors, 
who may give them 'a penny for the Guy' who will soon be burned over the bonfire

The fireworks curfew {11p-7a} is extended for Bonfire Night {midnight}
and likewise for Diwali, New Year, and Chinese New Year {1am}

Sales of fireworks louder than 120 decibels are banned

Although effigies and pyres sound dark and macabre,
it is a joyous and treasured tradition in England

'Guy' at my neighbor's house

In 1605, Guy Fawkes was a Catholic soldier who intended a coup known as the Gunpowder Plot
He and twelve others planned { and failed } to blow up Parliament to kill King James I of England

Although some evidence implies Guy and his crew may have been framed,
they were executed for the conspiracy

caricature of Guy Fawkes
[ via Bonfire Night website ]

King James I was also King James VI,
which confuses me no end

King James VI and I
[ wikipedia ]

Born in Edinburgh Castle in 1566, King James VI's mother was Mary, Queen of Scots

In 1586, James VI and Queen Elizabeth I of England became allies under the Treaty of Berwich

When James's mother was executed by Elizabeth I the following year, he became King of Scots 
and later was named Elizabeth's successor in 1603 upon her death
thus inheriting the Kingdom of England { including Wales } in the Union Of The Crowns

{ Scotland and England were politically united in 1707 under Queen Anne }

This made King James VI of Scotland also King James I of England 
and the first Stuart monarch to rule England

A Protestant, he commissioned the writing of the Authorised King James's Version of the Bible
which is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year

Most surviving original copies of the KJV Bible are housed
in universities and cathedrals in the UK and US

But earlier this year a little church by the name of 
St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England 
discovered their copy to be one of the original 200 printings

{ Imagine their delight! }

I find it interesting that in a country overflowing with history,
Guy Fawkes Day is the only annual holiday 
that puts a finger on an actual historical English event

And with that history another tradition has formed in the Palace of Westminster:

In present day the Yeomen of the Guard searches the cellars 
where the famous gunpowder was stored 
before the Queen enters Parliament during her annual 'State Opening of Parliament'


Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are :)

all photos by me unless otherwise noted

Sources: Wikipedia 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, BBC 1, 2, Bonfire Night, Fireworks UK



Zosia said...

Guy Fawkes Day was the theme of one of the texts in my English text book back when I was learning English in Poland in 1980's. In those days, we had very little hope of ever travelling to England or anywhere West for that matter, but were still learning to understand the lyrics to the British and American songs. Luckily things have changed and we can travel not only in person but also via Internet.

Pet said...

I like the bonfires too, but the history behind them is a bit like Shakespeare's plays, at the service of the Crown. How else could one survive, I guess? :-)

greenthumb said...

Great history lesson, I knew nothing about it, great bonfire photo.

Jane said...

Oh, what a fabulous, rollicking read, Laura! Thanks for the history lesson. I grew up learning most of it (as we were a British colony) and we used to celebrate Guy Fawkes' Night. Then sometime about 25 years ago, we stopped doing so. Fireworks are now really hard to obtain as they are deemed to be a public health hazard and permits are required to purchase them. J x

Pondside said...

That was a good reminder of an old school history lesson. At various times when we were posted with the British Army or Air Force, we celebrated with a Guy and a bonfire - I always thought that the celebration was at the perfect time of year!

Sarah said...

Hi Laura, thanks for popping over to my blog and leaving a comment. I've sent you an email.

Hope you had a jolly bonfire night.

Jen said...

Love your top photo. Beautiful.

cieldequimper said...

I miss Bonfire Night! Thanks for your visit on VDP!

Lesley said...

Hi there, the 'Beefeaters' have the Ceremony of the Queen's Keys every night., and I'm pretty sure that this includes searching the cellars. Better safe than sorry, but with the rabble we have in Parliament at the moment maybe we need another Guy Fawkes to sort out the shambles lol. blessings

loveandlilac said...

Your excellent account made me realise that one thing you don't see these days, or at least round my way, is kids doing 'penny for the guy' outside the local shops. I agree the English do seem to be a little shy of celebrating our rich heritage on a national level, but there are still plenty of local festivities like the traditional may day activities - some of them delightfully eccentric!

Grammy Goodwill said...

This was so interesting. All I could remember was gunpowder and fireworks - not the history to it. Thanks for sharing.

TexWisGirl said...

a very interesting read. and learning about james vi and i is in itself pretty fascinating. :)

Pat Whitehead said...

Thank you for this lovely read. My British husband always speaks fondly of Bonfire Night, and although he now fully gets in to the spirit of Halloween here in the states, I now wish we could celebrate both holidays on either side of the pond.

Pom Pom said...

Very interesting! Thank you! I learned something today.

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Another fascinating and enlightening post ~ thank you.(-:

beetree said...

We studied this in school and the kids loved this story, with all its intrigue and drama. I didn't know it was such a big holiday! Thanks for the post!

barefoot mama said...

oh geez..it get's dark so early:( Love the blue door! Guy Fawkes Day sounds interesting.... I learn so much when I come to visit your blog! Barefoot Mama

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I am back from my travels and am now busily trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers, who have all been so busy in my absence. I always enjoy reading about your life in my homeland.

Robynne's Nest said...

Great post Laura, educating me as always on all things British. I thought this last week was a lot quieter than the same time last year, when we heard bangs and pops all over the place every night leading up to the 5th...not sure why...Robx

laruelapalooza said...

How interesting! I'd heard of Guy Fawkes but I had no idea it was such a celebration. Great history lesson. I love the burning of the effigy too! The first time I ever heard of any of it was after I saw V for Vendetta! Pretty pathetic huh?

Barbara said...

I've always heard of the holiday but never really known what it was all about. It all sounds so interesting!

Magali @ The Little White House said...

I visited some family in England for Guy Fawkes Night a few years ago and I loved the atmosphere there was in the villages... I cried a lot during the fireworks (for some reason, people gathering together and being happy about it always brings tears of joy to my eyes!). As you seem to be a history buff like me, I think you would enjoy playing that online game if you haven't already:
I play it every year on Nov. 5th and can never remember all the questions!!!
Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Cool, thank you for the wonderful post. Love learning about history and I definitely learned something new today! ~ Wendy

Jo said...

Hi Laura, I really enjoy your perspective on the UK. Being a Brit living abroad, I often get quite nostalgic for 'home'. Reading your blog is often like seeing it all through fresh eyes. I love bonfire night and have even considered timing a visit in with Nov 5th, shame it's just that bit too far before Christmas to justify it... (sad I know)
Jo :)

Celestial Charms said...

I would love to be present in the U.K. for this bonfire night. Sounds like fun, and I enjoyed ready all your details about it.

Emily said...

Ooooh, Laura, thanks for all the info! Deeeelightful! Now I will make the connection to Guy Fawkes whenever I read the nursery rhyme and the KJV. Fascinating! On another note, I will no longer pout now that the sun begins setting at 5:30, for I will think of my British friends with a 3:30 setting sun. That puts things into perspective!

sian said...

great post! I miss bonfire night (now living in Spain) and as for trying to explain the whole history to Spanish friends, in Spanish.....

Ola said...

Interesting tradition, I would love to see it myself someday!

Joyce said...

Fun tradition...love that a whole village congregates for this occasion : )

Tabiboo said...

I'm not too sure why us Brits love Bonfire night so much especially (as you mentioned) it gets us all up and out and even worse into the cold, but I do love it so.

It's a tradition that's stuck with me since I was a child and I'm sure years before me with my parents and grandparents and so on and it's a tradition I want my children to hold onto and love as much as I do - I'm sure they will. It's that one little piece of history that we do celebrate - I wonder why?

Anyway - thank you for reminding me of all that I love about this tradition. It's really fascinating hearing about it through a newcomer to our shores.

Nina x

Sharon Parker said...

Thank you for such an interesting and informative post. Bonfire night sounds like a lovely tradition.

Denise at Forest Manor said...

Hi Laura,

This is such an interesting post. As much as I've read about England, I've never known very much about Guy Fawkes Day. Thanks for the info and great pics!

I gave you the Triple Cute Award for your blog. Please come visit my blog to read about it. :)



Jen@ADropintheBucket said...

Hi Laura! thanks for stopping by my blog, also happy to find a fellow expat, and one in the UK at that. We got to take part in Guy Fawkes festivities on Saturday night and it was great fun. I'm your newest follower. :-)

lizzybradbury said...

That is fascinating - I love bonfire night so much I just assumed everyone did it, I sort of forgot it's a British thing!

Nothing beats Baileys, Bonfires, Fireworks and Friends on November the 5th!

Lizzy x

Sallyford said...

Hi Laura, I wondered if your would be celebrating so I had to pop over and check! We actually had a celebration here in Florida this year since there is a huge British population here -we follow the sun. But I was so disappointed as it was largely a commercial venture. No Toffee Apple stands, no hot Soup, no Dunkin' for apples either, just a bunch of Brits trying to drum up some business. I'm sorry but only the Americans know how to throw a real party! =) I love the history of it too, did you deliberately leave out the gruesome bit about Guy Fawkes being Hung, Drawn, and Quartered and dragged through the streets.? yuk! xxxx hugs, Sally

Linda said...

It is a great evening - a defiance against the winter dark. I enjoy it much more than Hallow'een - it seems much more connected to the season of the year. Very considerate of Guy Fawkes to hatch his plot in the autumn.