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Bonfire Night in Britain

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Walter Wentz and Charlie

Bonfire Night

Most Americans, being rebellious by nature, would have liked Guy Fawkes. Americans like to make statements. So did Mr. Fawkes. Americans like to demonstrate. So did Mr. Fawkes. Americans like a nice cosy fire. So did Mr. Fawkes.

Guy Fawke effigy on top of bonfire waiting to be burnt at night fallWhat Mr. Fawkes did not like was Catholics, King James I, and most members of Parliament. He disliked them so much that he decided to blow them up.

To this end he managed to get a whole bunch of gun powder--hence the term 'Gun Powder Plot' - packed into the basement of Westminster Palace to finish off government with one big bang. Unfortunately for the local anarchists, before Guy could light a match, the politicians got wise to his pending felony and placed him under arrest. He was then tortured, tried, convicted, sentenced, and hung, although not necessarily in that order. To get the message across to other malcontents, he was then drawn and quartered, which is pretty nasty stuff. The mess that was left was placed on display in London. Nobody, not even Islamic nutters, have tried the same stunt since.

Bonfire night on 5 November throughout EnglandTo acknowledge the good intentions of Mr. Fawkes, on the fifth of every November, the anniversary of his misbehaviour (1605), the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. They do this with big bonfires. Naturally the celebration is called 'Bon Fire Night' and a good time is had by all, save of course the local firemen.

Oddly, Fawkes, a Yorkshireman by birth, had served in the Spanish Army. You didn't get much more Catholic than the Spanish Army. Getting zealots to change colours, however, has never been a difficult task. In fact Adolph Hitler did some of his best recruiting amongst the German Communists. [Hitler also liked bon fires.]

Burning things is an old British tradition. In fact the explanation for Britain's cold and wet weather is that God made it that way to remind the English to burn lots of Catholics. Of course when the Catholics were in charge, they burnt lots of Protestants. In the end I imagine it all came out about even.

Bonfire Night in Britain