Culture Street

Sophia's Column

Celebrating Bonfire Night

On November 10, 2015

By Sophia Whitfield
sparkler-918836_1920In keeping with my mission to encourage my Australian children to embrace UK traditions, last week they experienced their first Guy Fawkes Night, now often referred to as Bonfire Night.

During my childhood it was a night celebrated by lighting a massive bonfire in the local park and burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes. Sparklers were a given and occasionally a couple of fireworks were set off. How times have changed.

The annual celebration is usually observed on 5 November, but as this year it fell on a Thursday, celebrations continued on Friday and Saturday night.

The day harks back to 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later it became an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.

The day continues to be observed although it is more of an opportunity for a party. Gone are the bonfires and in their place sparkling fireworks displays went off all around London and in the surrounding areas. Schools put on displays in conjunction with fairs; local parks and commons were lit up with fireworks, drawing communities together for an annual celebration.

The puffer jackets, beanies and gloves are out as we head into winter. Hot chocolate is on offer everywhere. Even in the rain spectaculars are celebrated en masse. As my daughter can attest to London does not stop for the rain sport is played and events are never cancelled. They just include a hooded puffer jacket and the obligatory umbrella.

Our local street was the busiest I had ever seen it on Saturday night as families headed to the fireworks. They know how to party here in style and in the rain.

Guy Fawkes Night seems to now be known as Bonfire Night. I did attempt to educate the children on Guy Fawkes but they were more interested in looking up at the fireworks.

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