Bonfire Night

Here in the UK we have another tradition that comes straight after Hallowe’en and it’s an evening of bonfires and fireworks.

Tonight is Bonfire Night also known as Guy Fawkes Night and has been a tradition since the foiled gunpowder plot to destroy the Houses of Parliament back in 1605. You can search the story on the WWW if you’d like, it is quite fascinating.

In a nutshell, conspirators wanting to assassinate the then King thought up a plan to destroy Parliament. They got as far as placing firewood and barrels of gunpowder in the cellars but were foiled just in time to stop the explosion from happening.

As a kid I used to love Guy Fawkes Night. Memories of family, friends and neighbours around a large bonfire. Fireworks being light and large spuds wrapped in foil, cooked around the edge of the fire. We’d have sparklers in hand and write our names and make patterns in the air.

A group of us would make a large dummy that was the representation of Guy Fawkes in advance. It was made from old clothes stuffed with newspaper, with the arms and legs tied off with string.

We’d place the Guy on a corner of our local neighbourhood shouting “Penny for the Guy” in the hope that we’d get some kind of monetary prize for our creation. Then on November 5th, with the Bonfire ready after several days of building it from anything the adults could lay their hands on, the Guy was placed on top.

When the night was over the kids knew that the timer had started and the countdown to Christmas had began. Those were the days (chuckle).

So to commemorate this tradition, I had a look for the poem that was written to remember this time in history. The author was never known and there are slightly different versions, so here is my favourite of them.

I hope you enjoy.

Remember Remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
We know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament

Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match.

A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!

If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.

A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.

Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!