Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

November 5, 2006

guy_fawkes_bonfire.jpg Today is Guy Fawkes here in England – It celebrates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, in which a group of Catholic conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London on the evening of 5 November 1605, when the Protestant King James I (James VI of Scotland) was within its walls.

Halloween passes by very quietly here in London from what i’ve seen – no bevvies of littlies dressed in sheets or mandarin outfits going round for candies, no pumpkins on porches and no fancy dress for older kids (other than the bog standard black goth gear that is always to be seen around Camden any day of the year).

Guy Fawkes night is the main celebration at this time of year, with fireworks and bonfires lit in all the main parks tonight, the 5th of November. I find it interesting to see how the Celtic festival of Samhain, the festival to mark the end of summer and the final harvest, has changed and mutated to result on the one hand in the north American pop culture version of Halloween and on the other to a celebration of historical religious and political rebellion.

The celtic roots of this time still show through though, much like eggs at easter. I was intrigued to see that the word bonfire originally came from the Gaelic word “bone fire” …. Anyone for a spot of burning?


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