What is Bonfire Night?
- Bonfire Night is derived from the traditional Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.
- It is a celebration which remembers the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London on 5th November 1605.
- The Gunpowder Plot aimed to kill the Protestant King and replace him with a Catholic Queen.
What happened on 5th November 1605?
- An anonymous letter was sent to some Catholics warning them to stay away from the House of Lords.
- A search of rented storerooms underneath the Houses of Parliament was ordered by the King on the 5th November.
- Guy Fawkes was found guarding explosives which had been placed underneath the House of Lords and hidden with wood and coal. He was part of a group of Catholics who had plotted to commit treason and kill the Protestant King of England, James I, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament with Gunpowder.
- Guy Fawkes was 35 years old. He was tortured until he revealed the names of the other conspirators. He was later executed along with the other conspirators.
How is Bonfire Night Celebrated?
- Bonfire Night is celebrated in Great Britain and some other Commonwealth Countries such as Canada and South Africa.
- The people of Great Britain hold celebrations on or around the 5th November with fireworks and bonfires.
- People hold small fireworks and bonfire parties at their houses and there are also big events in every town and city around the country which people go to as well.
Why do we have Bonfires and Fireworks?
- King James I allowed people to light fires to celebrate his survival.
- Fireworks represent the explosions which would have killed the king.
Why do we Burn a Guy?
- Contrary to popular belief, Guy Fawkes was not executed by being burnt alive at the stake. He actually jumped from the hangman’s scaffold and broke his neck to prevent the drawing and quartering which would follow.
- Today, old clothes are stuffed with straw to represent a person and ‘The Guy’ is placed on the top of the bonfire.
- In the past, other effigies or ‘hate’ figures have been represented and burned on bonfires.
Did you know…
- Other countries around the world hold ‘Bonfire Nights’ to commemorate various things.
- Bonfire Nights are often criticised for having a negative effect on the environment.
- Fireworks can be very dangerous and some countries have prevented easy sale for safety reasons. Countries in the Caribbean and New Zealand have laws preventing people purchasing fireworks for home use.
- Traditional/popular Bonfire Night food consists of Toffee Apples on sticks, Jacket Potatoes (cooked in foil in the bonfire) soup and BBQ food.