05 November 2008

November 5th - Bonfire Night, fireworks and why we celebrate it

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!


It is primarily remembered and marked in the United Kingdom where it was compulsory, by Royal Decree, to celebrate the deliverance of the King until 1859. These days it is purely a good reason to launch fireworks into the cold November skies and enjoy the pyrotechnic display whilst eating hot dogs, roasted potatoes with warm soup and hearty helpings of hot chocolate suitably laced with alcohol.

Guido Fawkes is notorious for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was probably placed in charge of executing the plot because of his military and explosives experience. The plot, masterminded by Robert Catesby, was an attempt by a group of religious conspirators to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the aristocracy by blowing up the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament.

After being tortured on King James's orders, Fawkes and a number of others implicated in the conspiracy were tried in Westminster Hall. After being found guilty, they were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster and St Paul's Yard, where they were hanged, drawn and quartered on 31 January 1606.

For the uninitiated : this means they were hung, but not killed - before they could die from suffocation they were taken down and disembowelled with the final cut being the still beating heart. This was a punishment given for the severest of crimes, and others who suffered the same fate included William Wallace (filmed as Braveheart) and a film I have never been able to watch twice.

Common foods served at bonfire parties are black treacle goods such as bonfire toffee (aka Cinder toffee), parkin, toffee apples, baked potatoes, which are wrapped in foil and cooked in the bonfire or its embers and devilled sausages.

So enjoy the blood thirstiness of Bonfire night...

4 comments:

dickiebo said...

I say! This is all just a bit gory, on the day when Obama was elected!

Janet said...

So were they hanged first and then drawn and quartered? Because really, that seems like a waste of effort. Once he's dead, what does he care about being drawn and quartered? (Sorry Dickiebo.)

I don't know how it is that I've known about Guy Fawkes history all my life in spite of not being British. But that's the first time I've seen the poem.
Potatoes wrapped in foil and baked in a fire are the BEST.

The W.O.W. factor said...

I love hearing about more history! Roasted hot dogs? I'm in! Hot Chocolate? got peppermint schnapps?
Hope your day is grand, Sage! How is UK responding to our new Pres?
(just curious...)
~Hugs for you~
Barb

Kathy G said...

Thanks for the history lesson.