Celebrate Bonfire Night
“Remember, remember the fifth of November…”
Of course, you’re probably familiar with that famous rhyme, which is so frequently recited in the lead up to Guy Fawkes Night. But do you remember the full story behind the occasion? Do you know the history behind the bonfires, fireworks and effigies?
To refresh your memory, here’s a brief breakdown of this very British tradition—why it’s celebrated, how it’s celebrated and how you can get involved.
A brief history
As the rhyme implies, Guy Fawkes Night dates back to a very particular fifth of November in Britain’s history. It was 1605, and King James I, a protestant, was on the throne. In late October, authorities received an anonymous letter tipping them off to a planned assassination of King James by a group of Catholics.
The Gunpowder Treason Plot, as it was known, involved blowing up the Parliament building with a whopping 36 barrels of gunpowder.
On the eve of the scheduled explosion, authorities discovered one of the plotters, Guy Fawkes, guarding the explosives near the House of Lords and arrested him. Ever since, and in various forms, Britons have commemorated the thwarting of the Gunpowder Treason Plot each year on the fifth of November.
Keeping up with tradition
Although Guy Fawkes Night was once closely associated with the historic events of 1605, and the anti-Catholic sentiment of that era, modern celebrations have become increasingly distanced from those origins.
Today’s celebrations are viewed more as a fun, autumnal tradition—like Halloween—and an excuse to enjoy impressive fireworks displays, hosted by local councils and community organisations across the country.
- Fireworks — The main attraction of any Guy Fawkes Night celebration, fireworks shows are held to symbolise the explosions that would have been if Guy Fawkes was successful in his plot to blow up Parliament.
- Effigies — In its early history, Guy Fawkes Night (or Gunpowder Treason Night, as it was first known) was an opportunity for spirited revellers to burn effigies of the Pope or other despised public figures of the time. Later, the effigies were mainly of Guy Fawkes himself, giving rise to the newer name ‘Guy Fawkes Night’. These days, it’s more common for groups to burn effigies of famous – or infamous – celebrities and public figures.
- Bonfires — Also symbolic of the explosions that would have been, bonfires have played such a major role in Guy Fawkes Night, that the occasion is now more commonly known as ‘Bonfire Night’. In addition to the symbolism, bonfires are also a nice way for the local community to gather and keep warm whilst enjoying the fireworks.
How to get involved
Every year Britain plays host to hundreds of Bonfire Night celebrations, with fireworks, music and activities for the whole family. You can contact your local council to find out what’s happening in your area this evening, or attend a larger event near one of the bigger cities:
- Lewes, Sussex – Free procession – the largest of its kind in the UK! – and burning of effigies on Saturday 4 November.
- Alexandra Palace, London – Ticketed fireworks display on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th November.
- Glasgow Green – Free fireworks display and family events. Fun begins at 5pm on Sunday 5th November and fireworks are from 7:30pm.
- Don Valley Grass Bowl, Sheffield – Ticketed fireworks display on Friday 3rd November for After Dark Fireworks Sheffield. Park opens at 5:30pm and firework display begins at 9:00pm.
- Ottery St Mary, Devon – The famous Tar Barrels takes place on Saturday 4th November at 7pm.
Do you celebrate Bonfire Night? What are your favourite traditions?
Silversurfer's Assistant Editor
Latest posts by Silversurfer's Assistant Editor (see all)
- Our Top 5 Classic Christmas Films - December 14, 2017
- Should ‘wet wipes’ be banned? - December 13, 2017
- Sticky Blueberry and Banana Flapjack - December 13, 2017
- Books to give and receive for Christmas 2017 - December 12, 2017
- Have people forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? - December 11, 2017
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!