Two hundred and fifty

Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night!

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why 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 dark lantern and burning match

Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

I can remember my first Bonfire Night so clearly.  I swore I’d never go back.  Firecrackers being thrown at my feet, crowds of people pushing me over, a parade down the streets of Lewes, England with lots of fire.  Now that I look back on it, though, it was heaps of fun.  I was living in England at the time and my friends insisted I go to celebrate a true British ‘holiday’.  I still can’t believe there is a celebration where people are allowed to walk the streets and burn effigies of the Pope, Guy Fawkes and political figures (there was one of George W. Bush when I was there)!

The Gunpowder Plot (and how Bonfire Night started), from

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.

A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.

To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder – and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.

But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th.

The warning letter reached the King, and the King’s forces made plans to stop the conspirators.

Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.

That night, Nov 5, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the King’s safety.  Every year since then England has lit bonfires and burned effigies of Guy Fawkes on November 5th.  Children often walk around with Guy Fawkes dolls they made and beg “a penny for the guy”, where people give them pennies for the doll to be torched.

The Guy Fawkes mask, made popular by the 2006 film V for Vendetta, has now become an anti-government symbol, protesting tyranny.  You can see these on many of the protesters at the Occupy movements across North America.

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask hodls a sign outside Austin City Hall during the first day of Occupy Austin on Thursday, October 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Trent Lesikar - Daily Texan) Photo: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staf / Trent Lesikar | The Daily Texan (from

More information on Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night:

Introduction to Guy Fawkes Day in England

“Five things you should know about Guy Fawkes and those masks”

“For Occupy protesters, every day is Guy Fawkes Day”


National Chicken Lady, Candy, Common Sense, King Tut, Russian Unity Day recap

I had a little protest of these ridiculous holidays and decided not to eat candy or wear an Egyptian headdress or celebrate an event that happened in Russia in 1612.  My friend told me I was cheating, that I wasn’t being very much fun and that if I continued to ‘celebrate’ holidays this month by protesting them I wouldn’t have any readers left to write for!  I told him I was celebrating Common Sense Day and my common sense told me to protest!