Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Night, also called Bonfire Night, is celebrated on November 5th in the UK.

  • Guy Fawkes was a member of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Him and twelve others (led by Robert Catesby) were Catholics who wanted to kill the Protestant king of England, James I. They planted gunpowder underneath the House of Lords in London.
  • Guy Fawkes was the man left to light the gunpowder. However, he was caught. In the end every plotter was killed trying to escape, or caught and then killed in public, often with their head cut off and put on a stick.
  • Protestants in London built bonfires to celebrate. The next year an enforced public holiday was made to celebrate the king surviving. This law lasted until 1859.
  • In the early years of Guy Fawkes Night much of the celebrations was aimed against the Pope. People used to burn effigies (figures that look like the person) of the Pope or Guy Fawkes in the fire.
  • After 1859 Guy Fawkes Night continued as a community celebration. Villages and towns would meet and have a bonfire. Effigies were still placed in the fire.
  • In modern times some towns have replaced Guy Fawkes effigies with effigies of ‘villains’ in the news. Many people think this is in bad taste because these people are still alive.
  • Most towns and villages use Guy Fawkes as a community event. People meet around a bonfire, talk, drink, and children roast marshmallows. The religious ideas have gone.
  • A rhyme grew around Guy Fawkes night:

‘Remember remember the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.’