Bonfire Night

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot…….

The rhyme continues with a variety of endings, but the first two lines are the ones with most impact. Why should we remember the fifth of November? Because of the Gunpowder, treason and plot of course.

I was speaking to a Dutch friend the other day who was surprised by some of the things the British celebrate. Why would you celebrate a failed attempt to blow up parliament? She asked. I think she meant why celebrate a failure rather than why celebrate the continuation of parliament.

The idea of a celebration goes all the way back to the reign of King James. Yes, the same King James that the Gunpowder Plot was aiming to kill.

In 1605 Guy Fawkes was part of a group that attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament by placing barrels of gunpowder in the basement. The group was not led by Fawkes, but by a man called Robert Catesby. Guy Fawkes was the man given the job of safeguarding the barrels of gunpowder and lighting the fuse. However, on the morning of 5th November, soldiers discovered Guy and arrested him before he could carry out the plan.

In celebration of his survival, King James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire on the night on 5th November.

So the celebration of bonfire night is not a celebration of failure, nor a celebration of parliament. It’s a celebration for the life of the monarch.

Enjoy bonfire night, by Royal command.

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