November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day, one of the most popular holidays in England. Here’s the story of its origin:
In 1605 Guy Fawkes and a group of Catholic co-conspirators, in a famous scheme known as “The Gunpowder Plot”, tried to blow up the British Parliament. They hoped to kill the Protestant King, James I (who was persecuting Catholics at that time).
The conspirators hid gunpowder in the basement of the Parliament building, planning to detonate it around November 6th. Meanwhile, one of the conspirators started having second thoughts, because some of the people in the Parliament were sympathetic to the Catholic cause. He sent a letter to one of the members of parliament tipping him off to the plot.
On November 5th, Guy Fawkes was caught by the king’s men in the basement of the Parliament building. He was soon tortured and gave up the names of his co-conspirators. Later Guy Fawkes was hanged for treason. (It’s interesting to note that this is where the word “guy” comes from, originally meaning someone who looks strange.)
Some historians think the whole plot was actually a set-up, engineered by conservative Protestants, who successfully used the anger the supposed plan generated to encourage more persecution of Catholics.
Nonetheless, on November 5th in Great Britain, for nearly 400 years, children have made effigies of Guy Fawkes and burned them. Bonfires are also lit and fireworks set off.
Here’s a nursery rhyme sung on Guy Fawkes Day…
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I know no reason,
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
In some towns the holiday is called Bonfire Night. As the kids collect wood for the flames, and also once it has been lit, they dance in a circle around the bonfire singing…
The stars are bright,
Every little angel,
Dressed in white.
Can you eat a biscuit?
Can you smoke a pipe?
Can you go a-courting
At 10 o’clock at night?
To all the children in Britain, Happy Bonfire Night!
For more Guy Fawkes Songs, Rhymes and Chants…
Please comment below with any stories, songs or nursery rhymes about Guy Fawkes Day.
This article was posted on Friday, November 4th, 2005 at 9:01 pm and is filed under British Children's Songs, Children's Songs, English, English Nursery Rhymes, Guy Fawkes Day Songs, History of Nursery Rhymes, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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