Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

So when I was little I always looked forward to Guy Fawkes Night, for me as a child it meant a huge bonfire at our local Rugby Club or School on which we burnt our ‘Penny for the Guy’, with amazing fireworks, hot dogs, toffee apples, and sparklers all celebrated with family and friends wrapped up head to toe in a hundred layers because the clocks had just gone back and the nights were drawing in and all of a sudden it was freezing cold.

14-11-05 Bonfire


Well not a lot has changed in the 30 or so years, we still go to a organised local event, with a huge bonfire and fireworks, although the fireworks are a million times better than they used to be, many more, louder and bigger ones, and the weather isn’t as cold as I remember it being. One thing that has changed is the name, which is correct I am not sure, but in our house we now call it Bonfire Night.

We tend to make a big deal about the 5th of November (or the Saturday nearest to it…) in the Little Grippers household, with friends over before hand for the kids to play together, a huge feast of typical bonfire night foods including sausages, minted mushy peas (this is a Nottingham tradition that we didn’t mind adopting!!), corn on the cob and potato wedges. Tiffin and Toffee apples were wolfed down by the kids, who for them the toffee apples were a new experience (shhh don’t tell the dentist!).

Our nearest event is organised by our local Scout Group, it is a great family night and very well organised.  The Beavers make the Guy Fawkes to go on the top of the bonfire, but I no longer see any other children with their home made Guy Fawkes, and not for 20 or so years have I seen any child ask for a “Penny for the Guy Miss?” sitting outside their local pub or shop.  Is this due to Trick or Treat becoming ever so popular? With the huge amounts of sweets being collected on Halloween (we have enough to last the whole year!) why would any child go to the effort and expense of making a Guy Fawkes now a days?

14-11-05 Penny for the guy

Now these are all traditions, but where did they start and what is it all about? Well if you are one of our many customers across the world then you may never have heard about Guy Fawkes, the Gun Powder Plot and Bonfire Night. To wonder why we light Bonfires across the country, burn a man on the top called Guy and set off hundreds of fireworks, as a strange custom would not be a silly question.  Well here is my quick history lesson (but be warned I wasn’t particularly good at History at school….)

In 1603 James I became King. Prior to his reign Queen Elizabeth I had persecuted Catholics across the land, and it was hoped that James I would be more tolerant and give more equal rights to Catholics, especially as his mother had been Catholic. However this did not appear to be the case, and a number of men grouped together and planned the Gun Powder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King and over throw his parliament on the 5th November 1605.  The plot was the most ambitious plot ever made, and consisted of placing 36 barrels of gun powder in a cellar below the Houses of Parliament in London.  The plot may have succeeded had it not been for a letter sent from one of the gang, to his friend Lord Monteagle, warning him not to attend the opening of parliament on the 5th November.

Guy Fawkes was caught red handed in the cellar, and was arrested and executed for his part in the plot.  Whether Guy Fawkes was the instigator of the whole plot or simply the man set to light the powder, is debated by historians, but one thing that everyone knows, is that he is the most infamous of the Gun Powder Plot Gang.  On the very same night, in celebration of the fact that the Houses of Parliament and the King did not fall foal to the plot, bonfires were lit across the country with and without effigies of Guy Fawkes.  And every year since 1605 the same tradition has been followed.

In later years fireworks were added as part of the celebration, and they grow bigger and better each and every year.

14-11-05 Guy Fawkes

Well, what ever the history, or the reasons behind the traditions, we love Bonfire Night, the family get together, and the fun we all have. So next year the Little Grippers parents will be encouraging the kids to make their own Guy Fawkes, not to stand on the street asking for money, but just for fun!!

14-11-05 Fireworks

For those of you not old enough to remember the nursery rhyme about the Gun Powder Plot here is the whole thing:

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

Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid 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.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

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