I was talking with my British friend Chris on Halloween. He told me that Halloween isn’t really celebrated through most of Great Britain. Guy Fawkes Day is the most important holiday at this time of year. It’s celebrated on November 5th. People make barn fires and light fireworks. Kids also pull pranks which is why it’s also called Mischief Night.
Chris told me how he grew up on a farm and everyone in his neighborhood would head to their property for the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night. Each year they tried to build a bigger fire to outdo the one from the year before.
Chris was telling us about how the holiday is all about a grudge against something that happened over 400 years ago. Conspirators tried to blow up the Parliament Building in London way back on November 5th, 1605. Guy Fawkes was caught as one of the plotters. He was found guilty and hanged for treason. The Brits celebrate that the English parliament did not actually blow up by burning the "guy" who tried to blow it up.
Today, an effigy of Guy Fawkes is burned in the bonfire. Here you can see someone talking about his preparations for the event…
Below you can hear people chanting the Remember, Remember the Fifth of November Rhyme while burning the effigy of Guy Fawkes. You can also see them eating baked potatoes which is another part of the tradition.
Here’s one more Guy Fawkes Effigy being burnt…
Thanks to Chris for sharing his memories with us!
Feel free to let us know how you celebrate Guy Fawkes Night (what food you eat, songs you sing, chants, etc.) and if anyone celebrates Halloween in Great Britain.
Happy bonfire night!
This article was posted on Monday, November 1st, 2010 at 9:53 pm and is filed under Bonfires, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, England, English Nursery Rhymes, Guy Fawkes Night, Holidays Around the World, Nursery Rhymes, United Kingdom, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
4 Responses to “Guys Fawkes Day – A 405 Year Old Grudge!”
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November 9th, 2010 at 10:19 am
Hello! I’m a 29 y/o Brit and I always remember my grandmother making big trays of jaw-dislocating treacle toffee for the school for Guy Fawkes night. It also used to be common for children who had made a guy to sit on the street with him leading up to Guy Fawkes / Bonfire night with a sign saying “Penny for the Guy”, trying to collect money. Lots of youth groups / classes in a school would have competitions to make the best guy, and certainly when I was a kid they could be made in the image of almost anyone or anything, not just a man in 17th Century dress.
Also…Halloween most definitely is celebrated here. Not on the same epic sale that America does, but the costime parties, games, trick or treating, carving of jack o’lanterns etc are all well-entrenched and actively maintained traditions here, and the high street stores positively explode with preparations for the eight to six weeks beforehand. I’d seriously question if Guy Fawkes night was the bigger celebration, especially as it’s still a sensitive issue for some British Catholics. (Don’t know if you know the full story, but it really is pretty grotesque.)
Finally – “grudge”? To be fair, it would have been an absolutely massive act of terrorism… ;)
November 9th, 2010 at 10:34 am
Thanks for writing! My British friend called it a “grudge”, but perhaps it was really tongue in cheek.
How do you make the “Guy”? Is it like making a scarecrow man… in the US we make them by stuffing straw into clothes.
November 9th, 2010 at 10:42 am
There’s lots of different techniques, and that can be part of the competitive angle. I think I remember our guys being stuffed full of old clothes (we were in quite an urban area so more likely to be lying around free than straw) and maybe having a basic wood frame…but sadly I think I was too small to really appreciate the logisitcs! I would imagine it would be roughly the same concept though :)
November 9th, 2010 at 11:52 am
Interesting! I did another post about British traditions and would love for you to comment on your experience of any of them if you have the time. I’m curious which region of the UK you grew up in.