Happy Guy Fawkes Day, everyone! We don’t really celebrate Bonfire Night here in the US (though we really, really should! Just because it’s fun to go around chanting “Remember, remember the 5th of November…” if nothing else.) I think I can probably find some leftover 4th of July sparklers tonight, though, and raise a glass to the Guy.
Guy Fawkes, of course, commemorates a failed Catholic uprising in 1605, where Fawkes, a small-time country gentryman, and 12 co-conspirators decided to blow up Parliament by storing gunpowder in tunnels under the palace and sending James I, his court and counselors sky-high. It fizzled (ha!), and people lit celebratory bonfires around the city. The day became an official holiday, often the focus of anti-Catholic bigotry and fervor, but now I guess it’s mostly an excuse to drink and light bonfires. Sounds fun, though!
According to the History Timeline site:
After the plot was revealed, Londoners began lighting celebratory bonfires, and in January 1606 an act of Parliament designated November 5 as a day of thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Day festivities soon spread as far as the American colonies, where they became known as Pope Day. In keeping with the anti-Catholic sentiment of the time, British subjects on both sides of the Atlantic would burn an effigy of the pope. That tradition completely died out in the United States by the 19th century, whereas in Britain Guy Fawkes Day became a time to get together with friends and family, set off fireworks, light bonfires, attend parades and burn effigies of Fawkes. Children traditionally wheeled around their effigies demanding a “penny for the Guy” (a similar custom to Halloween trick-or-treating) and imploring crowds to “remember, remember the fifth of November.”
Guy Fawkes himself, meanwhile, has undergone something of a makeover. Once known as a notorious traitor, he is now portrayed in some circles as a revolutionary hero, largely due to the influence of the 1980s graphic novel “V for Vendetta” and the 2005 movie of the same name, which depicted a protagonist who wore a Guy Fawkes mask while battling a future fascist government in Britain. Guy Fawkes masks even cropped up at Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City and elsewhere. “Every generation reinvents Guy Fawkes to suit their needs,” explained historian William B. Robison of Southeastern Louisiana University. “But Fawkes was just one of the flunkies. It really should be Robert Catesby Day.
Since it’s raining here today, thus not helpful for lighting fires, I guess I will settle in to working on the WIP and re-watching last night’s episode of Sleepy Hollow! It’s good to be back at the Riskies and getting back onto a semi-normal routine…
What are you doing for Bonfire Night???