Friday, November 06, 2009

Penny for a Guy

Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day...for those of you not in the know, a brief summary:

Fawkes and his revolutionary cohorts set about assassinating King James I and attepmpted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in a 1604 conspiracy known as the Gunpowder Plot. They amassed enough gunpowder in a basement near Westminster to essentially destroy that part of London as well as kill nearly the entire membership of the House of Lords, the senior bishops of the Church of England and the royal family. The plot failed, and Fawkes and his co-conspirators were put to death.

The character of Satan in Milton’s "Paradise Lost" is based on Fawkes, and today we have the word “guy” because of him — “burning the guy” in effigy is a part of how Bonfire Night, November 5th, is celebrated in the England. Each year in Britain, fireworks and bonfires are set alight. I can attest to the fireworks last evening as my neighborhood was riddled with them.

Another tradition apparently dropped by the wayside, but also connected to Guy Fawkes Day involved children building a Guy Fawkes effigy and waiting outside public places, asking passers-by for a "Penny for a Guy". I witnessed none of that yesterday however.

Still, I am all for any good reason for a fireworks display.

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