It’s such a shame when bonfire night falls on a school night, because the kids can’t stay up late and enjoy the one time of the year when they are allowed to be a bit wild and noisy.
I do believe, however, that the fireworks party should be on November 5, as that is the date in 1605 that Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding explosives that had been placed underneath the House of Lords. It was known as the Gunpowder Plot – ‘Remember, Remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot’, we used to say as kids.
Nowadays, not many children know why we celebrate bonfire night, they just accept it as part of our calendar. For any child who may read this, it was an attempt on the life of King James I, and the people of London celebrated by lighting bonfires around the city.
It became a public holiday and was known as Gunpowder Treason Day. Effigies of Guy Fawkes and other hated figures were pushed around in wheelbarrows by children begging for money, calling out ‘Penny for the Guy’, before it was thrown on the bonfire and burned and fireworks set off.
The tradition travelled with British settlers all over the world, though in America it has been replaced with Halloween, which is increasingly becoming more popular here as well.
Halloweencame from All Hallows’ Eve when one would remember the dead and it would revolve around the theme of using ‘humour and ridicule to confront the power of death’.
Halloween does seem to have become the more popular event, primarily because of the ‘trick or treat’ element, and also that kids and adults can dress up in fancy costumes.
It has become very commercial, so much so that young people are out drinking in ludicrous costumes. Witches, ghosts and skeletons are acceptable, but when they start dressing up as horror film extras, it can all be a bit over the top.
Give me simple bonfire night any day with sparklers, pumpkin soup, hotdogs and some loud fireworks!