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Why Does the UK Remember, Remember the 5th of November?

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The 5th of November is a day for the calenders in the UK! But why… what is so great about this date?

If you go to any school playground around this time of year in Britain, you may hear the common rhyme…

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Maybe that’s a slight give away! But if not, and you’re still stumped as to why November 5th is so special… It all goes back to one man, Guy Fawkes.

Who is Guy Fawkes?

Fawkes was born in York, England. At the age of 8, his father died, after which his mother married a Catholic. Fawkes converted to Catholicism and left for Spain, where he fought in the Eighty Years’ War.

Additionally, his travels to Spain were also motivated by the Catholic rebellion in England, a country whose accepted religion at this point was Protestant. And it was through this trip, he met some people who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

What Did They Do?

They came up with the Gunpowder Plot. The idea of which, was to blow up parliament and the King and reestablish the country’s Catholicism.

The plotters rented a cellar beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there.

What Happened on the 5th of November?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), prompted by an anonymous letter, the authorities were alerted and searched the area during the early hours of the 5th of November. There they found Fawkes guarding the explosives.

What Happened to Him?

Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, leading to a full confession. With this, the authorities were able to convict him to execution.

Fawkes has become synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, and the failure to kill the King has been commemorated in Britain ever since.

How is Bonfire Night Celebrated?

Every 5th of November, UK households gather around a bonfire onto which an effigy of Guy Fawkes is placed to burn.

Such celebrations are accompanied by a fireworks display, some can last hours, campfire/BBQ food and hot drinks to keep warm!

There are many places to enjoy the festivities, usually at least 3 public firework displays in any one area and if you don’t fancy gathering with your community, sales for fireworks tend to hit the supermarkets around mid-October! However, by UK law, you must be over 18 to purchase and use ‘adult’ fireworks.

Happy Bonfire Night, all!

 

Victoria Nufer

Former Staff Writer, London based writer, Victoria is currently studying English and Drama at Goldsmiths College, University of London. With a passion for poetry, she has been published several times through United Press and was chosen as a winner for their annual National Poetry Anthology in 2015! Appreciates writing in all forms, she looks to expand into the world of journalism upon graduation!

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