Happy Guy Fawkes Day!!!

Today, our friends in the UK celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, or as it is sometimes called, Bonfire Night.  Now I was thinking … many of our UK friends … Bushka, David,Roger, Mary & Jack, to name a few … know as much about our history and culture as many of us do, so doesn’t it seem only fair that we take a few minutes to learn something of theirs?  Admittedly, I knew very little of this holiday, its history, or how it is celebrated.  So, I went in search of answers and I want to share what I learned with you.

The (very) Brief History …

The year was 1605. When Protestant King James I acceded to the throne, English Catholics had hoped that the persecution they had felt for over 45 years under Queen Elizabeth I would finally end, and they would be granted the freedom to practice their religion.

When this didn’t transpire, a group of conspirators resolved to assassinate the King and his ministers by blowing up the Palace of Westminster during the state opening of Parliament.

Guy-Fawkes.jpgGuy (Guido) Fawkes, from York, and his fellow conspirators, having rented out a house close to the Houses of Parliament, managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of Lords – enough to completely destroy the building. (Physicists from the Institute of Physics later calculated that the 2,500kg of gunpowder beneath Parliament would have obliterated an area 500 metres from the centre of the explosion).

The scheme began to unravel when an anonymous letter was sent to William Parker, the 4th Baron Monteagle, warning him to avoid the House of Lords. The letter (which could well have been sent by Lord Monteagle’s brother-in-law Francis Tresham), was made public and this led to a search of Westminster Palace in the early hours of November 5.

Explosive expert Fawkes, who had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse, was caught when a group of guards discovered him at the last moment. Fawkes was arrested, sent to the Tower of London and tortured until he gave up the names of his fellow plotters.

guy-fawkes-conspirators.jpegThe conspirators were all either killed resisting capture or – like Fawkes – tried, convicted, and executed. The traditional death for traitors in 17th-century England was to be hanged, drawn and quartered in public. But this proved not to be the 35-year-old Fawkes’ fate. As he awaited his punishment on the gallows, Fawkes leapt off the platform to avoid having his testicles cut off, his stomach opened and his guts spilled out before his eyes. Mercifully for him, he died from a broken neck but his body was subsequently quartered, and his remains were sent to “the four corners of the kingdom” as a warning to others.

The following year, 1606, Parliament declared November 5th a national day of thanksgiving.

The Celebration …

parade.jpgGuy Fawkes Day is celebrated in the United Kingdom, and in a number of countries that were formerly part of the British Empire, with fireworks, bonfires and parades. Straw dummies representing Fawkes are tossed on the bonfire, as well as those of contemporary political figures. (I wonder if they would mind tossing one of Trump in there for us?)

Putin and Trump effigies … THANKS!!!

FireworksDummies have been burned on bonfires since as long ago as the 13th century, initially to drive away evil spirits. Following the Gunpowder Plot, the focus of the sacrifices switched to Guy Fawkes’ treason. Traditionally, these effigies called ‘guys’, are carried through the streets in the days leading up to Guy Fawkes Day and children ask passers-by for “a penny for the guy.”

guy-fawkes2The Food …

The traditional cake eaten on Bonfire Night is Parkin Cake, a sticky cake containing a mix of oatmeal, molasses, syrup and ginger.Parkin cakeA poem …

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

Gunpowder treason and plot

We see no reason Why Gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot ….

And now, I would like to take a moment to wish all my friends in the UK a Happy Guy Fawkes Night!  Be careful with those fireworks.  I’m sure I either left out something important or got some of my facts wrong, though I did try to use UK resources, so feel free to add or amend!guy-fawkes 3


46 thoughts on “Happy Guy Fawkes Day!!!

    • Catherine wheels? Rather like a plastic pinwheel lit afire? It is great stuff!!! Wish I had known all this before I wrote my post, as it would have brought it so much more life to the post! Next time I’ll consult with you first!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. In addition to the bonfire and guy, we have treacle toffee (made with black treacle which is similar to molasses) and toffee apples and it was customary where I grew up to have jacket potatoes in foil with butter and salt outside -originally cooked in the embers. And sausages. A verse sung by some children at schools ran: Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the teachers on the top, put the prefects in the middle and burn the bloomin lot. Hmm. As a Catholic family we always celebrated it. It had lost the religious meaning around where we lived in what was anyway the recusant north 😉 In parts of the north of England Mischief Night falls on 4 November (not Halloween) and we used to do tame things like ringing doorbells and running away or putting treacle (there we go again) around post boxes. Sparklers are the cherished memory of most older people but sadly often replaced by light wands now. Yes, it was common to burn your fingers but hey – how else do we learn?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for bringing the celebration a bit more to life for me! The jacket potatoes have made my mouth water, especially if baked in the embers. Now, if somebody put sticky treacle around my post box, I might not be too happy … probably a mess to clean up! But your memories sound delightful … makes me nostalgic, even though they are not my own memories 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These days planned public displays are taking over from the private bonfire in the garden types of long ago. I remember ragged boys in short trousers with a crude old shirt and torn trousered guy collecting the old big copper pennies. Like me they knew nothing of history just that fireworks were fun , but they cost money, and no one had much of that. Behind the religious veneer was the thought in England that Catholic Spain and France would seek to win us back under the thumb of the Pope.
    In our days the crown is symbolic and Christianity no longer holds the reins of politics.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing that … it adds perspective apart from the facts. And religion no longer holding the rein of politics is a good thing, at least in my mind. Religion tends to make a mess of governance. Good to see you … I’ve missed your comments lately!


  3. Dear Jill and Friends,

    “Happy Guy Fawkes Day!!!”.

    While I did know about the history of Guy Fawkes I did not know about the celebration of Guy Fawkes day in the UK on November 5. It sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for this interesting news tidbit.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Super post, Jill! Yeah! Many Brits do not know the whole story…..Fanatics/Religious zealots, they may well have been, but the event shows what can happen when people are relentlessly oppressed. 😉 Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!!! I had fun with this one and enjoyed the history lesson. Yes, it is the same here … sometimes you guys in the UK know more of our history than most people here. For some reason, people tend to think of history as just ‘something that happened a long time ago’, when in fact, when we ignore the lessons of history, we tend to return and make the same mistakes over and over … ad infinitum.

      Have a fun Guy Fawkes Night, my friend! Hugs!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Brilliant Jill.
    You probably know more about Guy Fawkes Night than many English people.
    When I was a kid November 5th / Guy Fawkes Night / Bonfire Night / Firework Night was the big autumn event ~ many of us had bonfires in our back garden, and we bought fireworks at the local newsagent. Later, say when I was in my twenties, things switched to mostly organised events run by the local church / Rotary Club / Boy scouts. These were much bigger affairs, and that’s pretty much what we have today. Big bonfires, lifelike looking guys, lots of professionally let-off fireworks. Some of these organised events are massive. Until pretty recently, (can’t remember the year), the 5th of November was a public holiday. Basically we are celebrating the historic oppression of Catholics.
    Honestly, it’s a much more fun evening than Halloween, which many of us regard as a slightly tacky American import.
    Thanks for this lesson in English History.
    Love, hugs, and kisses, ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jack! It is the same here … you guys across the pond often know more than most people here about our history than many who have lived here all their lives. I got the idea for this post from another UK friend who mentioned that he didn’t much care for Hallowe’en because it detracted from Guy Fawkes Night. We here in the U.S. have a certain unwarranted arrogance and often do not trouble ourselves to learn of other cultures and histories. I enjoy it all, and like to occasionally try to drop a few tidbits of fun history onto my readers’ plates. 😉

      Have a fun evening and enjoy your holiday!!! Hugs ‘n kisses ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post Jill! Thanks for the accurate and informative post about our little custom…. I did not know about the Parkin cakes.
    On the mischievous side; these ‘fashionable’ V for Vendetta masks- I would like to ask a wearer….’Errr do you know you are celebrating a fanatical religious fundamentalist who wished to destroy a representative body by great loss of life and then replace it with an authoritarian regime sympathetic to The Papacy?’ (Actually I have slightly exaggerated some of that, but then some folk deserve having their chains pulled)

    Liked by 1 person

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