Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night (or, more casually in recent times as Fireworks Night), is an annual celebration held on the evening of 5th November to mark the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 5th November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London.
The occasion is primarily celebrated in Great Britain where, by an Act of Parliament called The Thanksgiving Act, it was compulsory until 1859 to celebrate the deliverance of the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
It is also celebrated in some former British colonies including New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, parts of the Caribbean and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda.
Bonfire Night was celebrated in Australia until the mid-to-late 1970s, when sale and public use of fireworks was made illegal and the celebration was effectively abolished. Festivities are centred on the use of fireworks and the lighting of bonfires.
In the United Kingdom, celebrations take place in towns and villages across the country in the form of both private and civic events. The festivities involve fireworks displays and the building of bonfires on which “guys” are traditionally burnt. The “guys” are traditionally effigies of Guy Fawkes, the most famous of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, although may also be effigies of local or national hate figures. Although the night is celebrated in York (Fawkes’ hometown) some there do not burn his effigy, most notably those from his old school. In the weeks before bonfire night, children traditionally displayed the “guy” and requested a “penny for the guy in order to raise funds with which to buy fireworks. However, this practice has diminished greatly, perhaps because it has been seen as begging, and also because children are not allowed to buy fireworks. In addition there are concerns that children might misuse the money.
In the United Kingdom, there are several foods that are traditionally consumed on Bonfire Night:
.Bangers and Mash
. Black treacle goods such as bonfire toffee and parkin
. Toffee apples
. Baked potatoes – more commonly referred to as “jacket potatoes” – which are wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked in the bonfire or its embers
. Black peas with vinegar
. Potato pie with pickled red cabbage
. Groaty pudding
. In West Yorkshire the practice of collecting wood and other combustible materials to make community bonfires is known as chumping
If you’re a fan of fireworks, there are many events all over the world which offer some fantastic displays, for example;
. Mexico – in Mexico they celebrate ‘The Day of the Dead’ with a two day fireworks and bonfire extravaganza, this is held all over Mexico to honour passes relatives.
. USA – all over the US the Fourth of July marks Independence Day, and a whole host of light shows. If you really want to be wowed, then New York has some of the best.
. Thailand – every year the Heroines Festival takes place in Thailand to celebrate two 18th Century sisters who led a battle against invasion. The festivities include amazing fireworks displays, music and dancers.
. Italy – the religious festival of Festa del Redentore in Venice includes some amazing fireworks, plus the sky line is completely lit up in celebration.
If you’re lucky enough to be heading abroad to watch a fireworks display, then just remember to stay safe and buy travel insurance, visit Holidaysafe.co.uk for more information.
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