Guy Fawkes Night: Origin And Traditions Of November 5th In Great Britain
Did you know that, a few days after Halloween, the English continue to celebrate the occasion of Guy Fawkes Night? This national holiday, celebrated on November 5th, commemorates a historical event that is over four centuries old. We invite you to discover the origin and traditions of Guy Fawkes Night.
Why is November 5th an important day in England?
Today, Halloween is celebrated all over the world on October 31st. However, on November 5th, another lesser-known holiday takes place in Great Britain: the Guy Fawkes Night or Guy Fawkes Night.
Every year, during the night of November 5th, the English celebrate a significant event in their history with fireworks and bonfires. That's why this holiday is also known as Bonfire Night.
What is the story of Bonfire Night?
In Great Britain, Guy Fawkes Night commemorates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, a conspiracy led by Catholics on November 5, 1605.
To overthrow King James I of England and Protestant rule, English Catholics led by Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the House of Lords in London during a ceremony where the king was expected to be present.
On the night of November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes and his accomplices placed 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of Parliament. But their plot failed and the conspirators were arrested and executed. The English have been commemorating this foiled attack for over four centuries during the Bonfire Night.
Since that date, the Yeoman of the Guard, the king's bodyguard, always searches the cellars of Parliament before they are opened in November.
How do we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in Great Britain?
Just like Halloween a few days before, Guy Fawkes Night is a celebration that children love. On the eve of November 5th, children prepare cakes and effigies of Guy Fawkes in contests organized in schools. The selected dummy from these contests is then burned in the name of the town, as a symbol.
To commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, children also sing a very popular rhyme that begins with the phrase "Remember, remember the 5th of November".
The Bonfire Night lives up to its name because, all over the country, bonfires are lit at nightfall. Children wearing Guy Fawkes masks ask passers-by "a penny for the old guy", which means a penny for the old man (a pun on the name Guy).
Unlike Halloween trick-or-treating, children do not collect coins to buy sweets but magic candles and fireworks! Throughout Great Britain, November starts with a bang and the sky lights up with colorful fireworks.
The most important celebrations take place in Lewes in Sussex and Ottery St Mary in Devon. In London too, the festivities are particularly spectacular with the Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival.
In the capital, history enthusiasts can rediscover the events of the Gunpowder Plot under the vaults of the Tower of London! An immersive experience is offered there, with live actors and virtual reality scenes to transport spectators to 1605 London.
This experience is accessible to children aged 10 and older. You can find more information on the official website of the British Tourist Office (link below).
The events organized throughout the country on the evening of November 5th usually take place outdoors. So, don't forget to bundle up! You will often be offered a hot chocolate to warm up.