The 5th of November!
We all know the rhyme, but what of the history?
Nipping at the heels of Halloween, at the zenith of autumn, Guy Fawkes’ Night, or Bonfire Night officially celebrates the foiled Gunpowder plot of 1605, when a rag-tag team of Catholic usurpers planned to assassinate the protestant King James I of England, first of the Stuart line, son of Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I’s successor. After the arrest of Guy Fawkes who was caught guarding the cache of explosives beneath the House of Lords in Parliament, conventional wisdom holds that henceforth England would celebrate the King’s survival with fireworks and bonfires. In the decades and centuries to follow it evolved into a state commemoration, a ‘thanksgiving’ of sorts with towns and provinces marking the occasion with their own sponsored celebrations.
For Clementine, who was evacuated to the countryside during WWII, it’s unlikely she would have known or experienced much of this holiday before the end of the war. Many Brits would have missed this celebration, suspended as it was during the Blitz of 1940 and Britain’s imposed blackout.
As children decamped to the countryside, city-dwellers took refuge in the London Underground doubling as a shelter to escape persistent bombing. Homes, shops, businesses and factories adhered to strict blackout regulations during much of WWII to scupper nightly air raids from the Germans. Consequently, the country overlooked Bonfire Night and its accompanying fireworks in the face of war, resuming the celebration only after VE Day in 1945.
Today, Bonfire Night is a popular event enjoyed by many people across the country. Have a safe and fun evening Just remember however you choose to celebrate, give our fire services a rest and stay safe!
(Traditional English Rhyme - 17th Century)
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see 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 catched
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, holloa boys
God save the King!
Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!