Bonfire Night

In case you are new to England and don’t know what the Fireworks are about that usually start around the end of October until early November, here is a video explaining the history of the reason for this tradition.  (By the way, it has nothing to do with Halloween).

The Gunpowder Plot

To experience the event for yourself, usually the best thing to do is to find out where there is an organised display near you – preferably one that has a bonfire and not just fireworks…

…but as this is 2020 – the year of SARS-CoV-2 (the revenge of the killer SARS), most if not all organised displays have been cancelled.  I see some “drive-through” displays may be planned, but there seem to be none near me!  What this might mean, however, is that maybe more people will  have private displays in their garden, so you might hear even more of them!

I hope you will be able to appreciate this tradition that has taken place for nearly 400 years (Fireworks came after bonfires).

Bonfire Night has not always been a peaceful event though.  You can study some of the history of Guildford for an example of how violent these occasions became for a time!  

The Guildford Guy Riots (from “Tales of Olde Guildford”, Circle 8, 1984)

 

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three-score* barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow.

By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

* It was 36 barrels (about 2.5 tons), so I don’t know where “three-score” came from for the rhyme.  A “score” is 20 (or thereabouts), so three-score would be 60.  If anyone has an answer why the rhyme uses this phrase, please comment below.  (Is it simply because three-dozen didn’t fit?)

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