Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Remember, Remember the fifth of November...

So begins a rhyme from the childhood of generations of British people, my husband being one of them.  Something about this little poem always rings in his memory as November 5th rolls around.  And on that day, as we share morning tea or coffee, he realizes the date, and recites the poem...

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

The plot to blow up the British Houses of Parliament  in 1605 was hatched by Guy Fawkes, a gentleman who, it's easy to see, must have been seriously unhappy with the way things were going in Britain at the time.  Perhaps an earlier version of "Occupy Britain."  My husband tells me that today's "Occupy" protesters, not just in Britain, are wearing Guy Fawkes masks!

London protesters wearing
Guy Fawkes masks.
Courtesy Wikipedia.

This date is celebrated now with firework displays and bonfires.  On top of the bonfires is an effigy of Guy Fawkes.  Neighbors gather in the street to warm themselves by the bonfire, drink hot chocolate and enjoy the fireworks.  One of hubby's memories is of eating delicious potatoes that had been baked in the embers of a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night.  Sounds so quaint, doesn't it?  But I promise you, this happened in the 20th century!

As a kid, when hubby and his friends didn't have money to buy fireworks (and their parents were sensible enough not to give it to them), they would build an effigy and carry it around town, asking people they passed for "a penny for the guy."  And people donated heavily, knowing they'd spend the money on sparklers!

It's kind of amazing that hundreds of years later, Guy Fawkes Day is still celebrated faithfully.  While this event is not a legal holiday, it does mark the survival of the Monarchy, even today held dear in the hearts of most of Britain's subjects. 

Or maybe they just like a good street party?!!

1 comment:

  1. hello jenny how are you?, a penny for the guy reminds me of my childhood... :) story of the past inspired others :)

    you may like my blog :)