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Why Celebrate Bonfire Night?


Nov 04 2015
The Origins of Bonfire Night

Remember, remember the 5th of November
gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason that gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Many of us remember this poem but why and how do we celebrate Bonfire Night on 5 November?

It is British tradition to light bonfires and set off fireworks every year on 5 November. This annual event is a way to remember the events of 5 November 1605 when a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King was foiled.

The Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes

In 1605 Britain was a Protestant country. There had been decades of persecution of Catholics and tension and violence between Protestants and Catholics. When James I became king in 1603, Catholics had high hopes that things would change and some reforms were made. However, by 1605 King James, under pressure from advisors, increased penalties on those who still practised the Catholic religion.

A group of disaffected Catholics plotted to kill the King by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. They wanted to put James’ daughter Elizabeth on the throne and restore Britain to the Catholic faith.

It became known as the Gunpowder Plot and was led by Robert Catesby. Catebsy, along with Guy Fawkes and others, planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5 November 1605 – the day of the State Opening of Parliament. This would not only kill the King but also the most powerful men in the country.

They managed to source gunpowder and put 36 barrels of it into a cellar under the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes stayed with the gunpowder ready to light the fuse but the cellars were searched and he was caught and arrested. He was taken to the Tower of London, tortured and eventually gave the names of his fellow conspirators.  Everyone involved in the plot was caught and eventually executed.

To this day we still remember the failed Plot and celebrate on 5 November every year by lighting bonfires and fireworks.

Did you know?

  1. After Guy Fawkes was arrested, the others escaped to Holbeche House in Staffordshire where several, including Catesby, died in a shoot-out with the King’s men.
  2. Guy Fawkes and seven others were executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 30/31 January 1606.
  3. After the Plot was discovered King James I passed new laws removing Catholics’ right to vote and restricting their role in public life. It was another 200 years until these restrictions were lifted.
  4. Despite plotting one of history’s most famous attacks on a British King, Guy Fawkes was named the 30th Greatest Briton in a poll conducted by the BBC in 2002.
  5. Every year on 5 November King James I ordered people to light bonfires to celebrate the day that the gunpowder plot was uncovered. This tradition continues today.
Bonfires

Bonfires – People up and down the country build bonfires to mark the occasion and to celebrate Bonfire Night. Whether it’s in your back garden or at a local fireworks event, it’s a tradition that that has been held for over 400 years.

Guys – In preparation for bonfire night many people get together to make a dummy of Guy Fawkes – which is referred to as ‘The Guy’. This is usually made from old clothes stuffed full with straw or newspaper with a face painted or a mask to resemble Guy himself.

It’s a great activity to get children involved with. In some places people still keep the tradition of walking ‘The Guy’ through the streets on the way to the bonfire – parading him before placing him at the top of the bonfire, ready to light.

The Guy is placed on the top of the bonfire which is then set alight during the evening. The night sky is filled with the burning embers of the fire and beauty of the fireworks display

Fireworks

Fireworks – Thousands of families across England flock to local fireworks displays. It’s a night of family fun and can be enjoyed by all, no matter how old you are.

If you visit a local fireworks event you can expect a great fireworks display which will fill the night sky with bursts of colour.

Bonfire baked potatoes – As well as burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, bonfires are often used to cook potatoes wrapped in foil, to feed the crowds of people who have come to watch the firework display.

If you are having a bonfire at home you can easily bake your own potatoes. All you need is a potato, tin foil and a long stick or something similar. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Wrap the potato in the foil
  2. Poke the stick into the potato to secure it on the end
  3. Carefully place in the bottom of the bonfire
  4. Leave for approximately 1 hour – depending on the size of your potato
  5. Leave to stand for a few minutes – it is then ready to enjoy!

The bottom of the bonfire is the hottest part so be careful and make sure this is only carried out by an adult

Firework Safety Tips

Fireworks night is great fun and is enjoyed by families all over the country – unfortunately it can be dangerous too. Here are some simple safety tips to ensure you and your family stay safe during fireworks night:

  1. Never play with fireworks – they are explosive and can hurt you
  2. Only adults should light fireworks in a safe environment
  3. Stand well back when watching fireworks – standing too close may results in injuries
  4. Never go back to a firework once it has been lit, even if it hasn’t gone off. Leave enough time as it may still ignite and explode
  5. Keep all pets inside during fireworks night – they may get spooked
  6. Always wear gloves when using sparklers and always have a bucket of water close by to put used sparklers in
  7. Never put fireworks in your pocket – they should be kept in a secure box
  8. Always follow the instructions on each fireworks for lighting, they may vary for different products
  9. Children under 5 should not use sparklers
  10. Light the fireworks at arm’s length – never get too close

We hope you have an exciting but safe Bonfire Night and we’d love to hear how you celebrated Guy Fawkes and what traditions kept you busy. Post your pictures to us on Facebook or Twitter.

Have a lovely Bonfire Night from the Early Learning Furniture team. 

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