With so much excitement about Halloween out there poor old Guy Fawkes night is being lost. So, as this holiday is one I celebrate more than Halloween I thought I would do a Guy Fawkes tribute post. As it is such a big event in my life I often forget that people outwith Britain are probably completely unaware of Guy Fawkes Night, as its roots are in British History.
Who was this Guy Fawkes?
Guy (Guido) Fawkes Night (or Fireworks Night or Bonfire Night) is on the 5th of November. To remember the failed assassination attempt, by a group of English Catholics, on King James I and his family by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on 5th November 1605. Although several men were involved in the plot Guy Fawkes is remembered as he was the explosives expert in charge on the detonation itself. They, after obtaining the lease to one of the stores under the Houses of Parliament, filled the room with 36 barrels of gunpowder, under a store of winter fuel.
The plot was uncovered because several members of the conspiracy were concerned about the fact that several of their Catholic friends would be present and subsequently killed. So they sent letters advising that they should not attend. Although the conspirators were aware that 'the secret was probably out' they continued with the plan. Guy Fawkes was discovered, 'lighter' in hand and arrested. On his arrest he far from denied his involvement he declared that it was his intention to kill the King and his family.
Fawkes was interrogated under torture (which was only permissible at the time with direct orders from the King) and revealed the names of all the conspirators. The other were eventually arrested and after trial all were sentenced to be Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Why did they want to kill the King?
Essentially, they believed that the tolerance for Catholicism in England would continue to drop under the leadership of James I so wished to remove him from the throne and, due to the laws of succession, Princess Elizabeth, would become Queen - a Catholic Queen.
How do we celebrate?
Traditional celebration involves the creation of a 'Guy' a man, usually made from straw or newspaper stuffed clothing, being placed on top of a bonfire and burned (only when I write this down do I realise how morbid that is!). Children usually make the guy and often went around the towns with their 'Guy' collecting money -
"Penny for the Guy?"
The money would then be put towards buying fireworks.
As a side note this is how the term 'Guy' came to mean 'Man'
Many places still put the Guy on top of the fire but most of the true meaning is lost to history. The fireworks are still popular, why the term Fireworks Night, came to replace Guy Fawkes Night. In the week running up to and including (and usually past!) fireworks are let off by individuals or a larger town events. There is usually a barbeque and toffee apples and it is a very social and exciting time.
So it is off to a Fireworks party I go in two weekends time, the 8th. Plenty fireworks, and tasty food, I'll get some recipes up for things you can make for it! I recommend making some Toffee Apples, kids'll love 'em!! As a little taster why not try the Rocky Road recipe, its really easy, kids can help out and it always reminds me of Bonfire Night!!
Here ends my salute to Guy Fawkes Night!