Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot,
We see no reason,
Why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot!
In just a few days the English, that tolerant and staid race, will let off fireworks and burn Catholics in effigy to celebrate the miraculous delivery of the House of Parliament and King James I in 1605. In that year, a group of conspirators, including one Guy Fawkes, planned to blow up the above in protest of the continued persecution of Catholics. Or did they? One revisionist theory is that the group were set up by the government to turn the public against Catholics and in favor of the new and unpopular Scottish king (who apparently was also a bit of an old queen).
One of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was discovered on November 4 in the vaults of the Houses of Parliament with a large amount of gunpowder, and depending upon whom you read, either the stuff was too old to do any damage or there were many times as much as was needed. Below is a computer simulation of what would have happened if the plan had been successful. See more at telegraph.co.uk.
Although he wasn’t the ringleader, it’s Fawkes’ name that is associated with this band of fanatics. James I decreed that the day after the discovery of the plot, November 5, was to be celebrated as a day of deliverance. Traditionally a “guy,” an effigy, is displayed in the weeks before the holiday, and children beg money to buy fireworks. Then the guy is burned on a bonfire, fireworks are set off, and various disgusting foods (like potatoes roasted in the embers, black on the outside, crunchy on the inside) are consumed. The trend nowadays is to encourage inside parties and official fireworks celebrations to keep the hospital emergency rooms clear.
For background and real information on the gunpowder plot, visit http://www.gunpowder-plot.org/