the fifth of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
should ever be forgot.
So goes the rhyme that I was learnt as a child with regard to Guy Fawkes (also known as bonfire night) which, generally speaking, is more popular here in the UK than Halloween.
But what is Guy Fawkes and why do we celebrate it? Well ..........
Not really as much what is Guy Fawkes as WHO WAS GUY FAWKES? He was a soldier who, along with four others, on November the fifth 1605 was discovered in the cellars under the HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT (also known as the Palace Of Westminster) along with some 20 barrels or so of gunpowder. Arrested and tortured, he confessed that it had been his intention to blow up Parliament along with the, then King, James the first, his ministers and the Members of Parliament. Why? Because Fawkes, a Roman Catholic, was angered that James 1 had promised more religious tolerance to Catholics and had then gone back on his word. And so ever since 1606, when Parliament agreed to make November the fifth a day of public thanksgiving, we have celebrated with fireworks and bonfires.
So, apart from fireworks (press HERE in order to see some virtual ones) how else do we celebrate Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night? With bonfires of course, most of which will have a Guy placed on top. A Guy being a cloth representation of Guy Fawkes himself though it is becoming ever more popular to burn a Guy that is made to represent some infamous 'celebrity' or person in the news at the time. Take this year, where at a bonfire in Kent, a Guy made to represent KATIE PRICE will be burnt. (Remember Katie? It was her fans who, at a BOOK SIGNING, caused a near riot last month.)
A popular celebration with children, Penny For The Guy is also part of the fun. Not so common now it seems, but when I was a little girl, children were to be found on almost every street corner, beside them a Guy wearing their dad's cast off clothing and often a mask, asking "Penny For The Guy" to which they were handed some loose change if they were lucky.
So have a happy but safe Guy Fawkes - remember to follow the FIREWORK CODE, keep all pets safely in doors and check that bonfire before lighting in, unlit bonfires being a favourite place for hedgehogs to hibernate.
AND REMEMBER - November the fifth does not only see the celebration of Guy Fawkes, it is also KATHINA DAY, a Theravada Buddhist tradition in which the lay community offer monks new Kathina robes at the end of their three months Rain Retreat.