Gunpowder, treason and plot!
I LOVE bonfire night. One of my favourite holidays in the year. The cozy feeling of warming yourself around a beautiful big bonfire outside, the cold snap in the air and the trees almost stripped of their Autumn gold.
It brings back wonderful memories of my childhood, Mum and Dad walking us up to Farmer Cain's field for the neighbourhood celebration, to see the Guy Fawkes atop the bonfire, waving sparklers in our gloved hands, and the fireworks exploding above our heads. Lovely. Not only that, but having Halloween (called Hop-Tu-Naa on the Isle of Man), Bonfire Night, Christmas, and New Years all in quick succession, Children went absolutely nuts at this time of year.
What has brought on this sudden, sentimental flashback you ask? I just went to my first Bonfire night in 5 years! For the first time in half a decade I happened to be back in Britain on November 5th. And I had forgotten how much I love this day. With this being a uniquely British holiday, I tried explaining it to my Chicagoan Fiancé... and in doing so, realised how odd a holiday it is!
The history of Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes night as it is also called) really started on November 5th 1605, after an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, and the assassination of King James I was discovered. The Gunpowder Plot, as it was known, was a conspiracy to 'remove' (read blow to bits...) the Protestant King, and replace him with a Catholic Head of State. Guy Fawkes (one of the conspirators) was found in the cellars underneath the House of Lords guarding a whole cache of gunpowder kegs. Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were then promptly taken to the Tower of London, tortured, found guilty of High Treason, then sentenced to be Hung, Drawn and Quartered. (I shall spare these gory details - but for anyone interested here they are! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanged,_drawn_and_quartered ) .
I can confirm that this was a pretty nasty way to go, and would more than sting a little. A couple of aspirin and a lie down would not sort this one out I'm afraid.
To celebrate his survival, King James I proclaimed November 5th a public celebration. The people of England would light bonfires all around the country, and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes atop it.
We didn't have a Guy Fawkes to burn this year. We did have a sofa though. And while sofas are generally incapable of high treason, they do burn well.
Also, a lovely attempt at making jacket potatoes on the bonfire ended in them being burned into little charcoal nuggets.
A wonderful night indeed - a big thanks to the lovely Chrisanthou family for having me!