PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

Remember, remember, the 5th of November...

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November.

Bonfire night is celebrated on the 5th of November
Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords to assassinate King James I. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure as Gunpowder Treason Day.

Guy Fawkes was arrested and executed for his plans
Corporations provided music and artillery salutes and years later food and drink was provided for local dignitaries, as well as music, explosions and a parade by the local militia. At some point, for reasons that are unclear, it became customary to burn Guy Fawkes in effigy, and gradually, Gunpowder Treason Day became Guy Fawkes Day. Organised entertainments became popular in the late 19th century, and 20th-century pyrotechnic manufacturers renamed Guy Fawkes Day as Firework Night but during the two world wars for many families, Guy Fawkes Night became a domestic celebration, and children still congregated on street corners, accompanied by their own effigy of Guy Fawkes.

This was sometimes ornately dressed and sometimes a barely recognisable bundle of rags stuffed with whatever filling was suitable. Collecting money was a popular reason for their creation, the children taking their effigy from door to door, or displaying it on street corners. But mainly, they were built to go on the bonfire, itself sometimes comprising wood stolen from other pyres.

The present-day Guy Fawkes Night is usually celebrated at large organised events, still centred on a bonfire and extravagant firework displays. Generally, modern 5 November celebrations are run by local charities and other organisations, with paid admission and controlled access. This year Cardiff was full of firework displays such as the ones in Bute Park called ‘Sparks in the Park 2016’ with more than 20,000 fireworks fired and a bonfire. Also, there is a free display put on at Barry Island each year but it is important for spectators to help keep this event going by putting a donation into any of the collecting buckets on the night.
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