Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What on Earth is Guy Fawkes Night?

Randall Stephens

I've only been in the UK once during Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night.  I saw plenty of fireworks and bonfires lighting up night skies and scratched my head in wonder about the whole thing. What an interesting, historically odd celebration.

The BBC has this short summary and a video interview (see below) about the fiery fest:

Guy Fawkes night is the annual commemoration of the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot - when 14 individuals planned to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605.

The BBC's Carol Kirkwood asked bonfire night organiser Graham Callister why we celebrate Guy Fawkes night when it was in fact a plot to maim and kill.

See also this entertaining slide show at ABC News.

Is the celebration in danger of being extinguished?  The worry this year is that the fest has lost its, um, spark.  Halloween may be eclipsing Guy Fawkes Day.  Some down under are saying its time to let go on an "old English grudge." 

What about that grudge and the religious dimension?  Here's a very short report from the Beeb. 


Randall said...

And another recent celebration involving fire and effigies . . . Death to America Day, popular with Iranian hardliners. http://www.npr.org/2013/11/01/242280288/iranian-hard-liners-plan-grand-day-of-death-to-america

Eric B. Schultz said...

It's also a little disconcerting that Anonymous has co-opted the Guy Fawkes mask. See http://www.ibtimes.com/million-mask-march-anonymous-launches-worldwide-protest-guy-fawkes-day-2013-photos-1456108