“Remember, Remember the 5th of November
The Gun powder, Treason and Plot
I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.”

Every year on November 5, is remembered in the United Kingdom. It’s known as Guy Fawkes Night, Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night.

It’s a commemoration of the events of  November 5 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed under the British Parliament specifically beneath the House of Lords.

To celebrate the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

Within a few decades Gunpowder Treason Day, as it was then known, became the predominant English state commemoration, but apparently carried strong religious overtones and became a focus for anti-Catholic sentiment. Puritans gave sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while during increasingly raucous celebrations common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures, some of which were the Pope.

By the end of the 18th century reports appear of poor children begging for money with effigies of Guy Fawkes and November 5, gradually became known as Guy Fawkes Day. The present-day Guy Fawkes Night is usually celebrated with large organized events, centered around a bonfire and firework displays.

Settlers in North America brought the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night and to some folks in North America it was known as Pope Day. Those festivities died out at the start of the American Revolution. Claims that Guy Fawkes Night was a Protestant replacement for older customs like Samhain are disputed, although another old celebration, Halloween, has lately increased in popularity, and according to some the continued observance of 5 November might soon be relegated to the annals of history.

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1 Comment on Gunpowder Plot – Guy Fawkes Night

  1. R. Johns says:

    Interesting. I’ve never heard of Guy Fawkes Night. I guess we’re too into haloween. Followed your link on Samhain and how Christianity was involved.

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