This is a popular event in Britain and is usually celebrated on 5th November – and sometimes the nearest weekend to the actual night of the fifth.
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Guy Fawkes was born in Yorkshire in 1570. A convert to the Catholic faith, Fawkes had
been a soldier who had spent several years fighting in Italy. It was during this period that he adopted the name Guido (Italian for Guy) perhaps to impress the ladies!
‘Guy Fawkes Day‘ also known as ‘Bonfire Night’ or ‘Fireworks Night’ by some, marks the date, November 5, 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators attempted to kill King James I and the Members of Parliament and to blow up the Houses of Parliament – as a reaction to the persecution of Catholics under the rule of King James, a Protestant.
In London, bonfires were lit to celebrate the discovery of the plot soon after Fawkes was discovered. In 1606 Parliament agreed to make November 5th a day of public thanksgiving. Since then the day has been celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. However, it is not a public holiday.
Children used to make stuffed figures with masks as effigies of Guy Fawkes. They would call these figures guys and display them in the streets, using the traditional formula of “A penny for the guy”. The guy then became the centre-piece of bonfires, but this practice has almost ended in recent years, due to the fear of strangers and the negative association with begging for money.
Many people still hold bonfire parties and BBQs (even though it is usually really cold) and invite their friends round. To prevent accidents, many communities hold professionally organised public firework displays. Some of the venues for these public events are parks, fields, and on hills. New laws were introduced to control the use of fireworks in 2004.
Some of the traditional food eaten at this time of year includes:- sausages (also called bangers), soup and baked potatoes with cheese.