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There’ll be fireworks tonight …

Remember, remember, the 5th of November,

The Gunpowder Conspirators are discovered and ...

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Gunpowder, treason & plot

So says an Old English, um, saying. But what does this have to do with the tradition of making bonfires, setting off fireworks and burning images of a man with a beard?

UK - London - Tower of London: White Tower - G...

Image by wallyg via Flickr

Well, it was all started by a Guy named Fawkes. He and his co-conspirators were Catholics, unhappy at the treatment they had received from Queen Elizabeth I and after her death in 1603, expected things to improve under James I. When they didn’t, the thirteen young men decided that drastic action was the only way and so they hid 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar under the House of Lords intended to kill the King, possibly the Prince of Wales and many of the members of Parliament who opposed them.

At the last minute, however, the hiding place was (conveniently?) found early on November 5th, and Guy Fawkes was caught, tortured and executed. So every year at this time, we celebrate the fact that there still is a democracy we can criticise openly, at the same time being an excuse to get together in the cold weather and have fun!

V for Vendetta

Image via Wikipedia

For the whole story, see the comprehensive website at bonfirenight.net, which also mentions the graphic novel and film “V for Vendetta” and its links to the 5th of November story.

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