Monday, November 07, 2011

Guy Fawkes and fireworks

Saturday was Guy Fawkes Day (a.k.a "Bonfire Night")...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 UK. Each year in Britain, fireworks and bonfires are set alight. I actually caught fireworks this year from my bedroom window....that is what I call service!

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 this weekend....guess some traditions do fall by the wayside. Oh, wait, there was a reference to it on Saturday night's show by the 80+ year old host of Strictly Come Dancing, Bruce Forsythe, ...guess his age explains why.

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