November 04, 2015
Why do we Remember, Remember, the 5th of November?
“Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…”
On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed in the dark cellars of the Houses of Parliament with enough gunpowder to not only destroy the building, but also to obliterate an area of 500 metres from the centre of the explosion.
Fawkes was tried as a traitor along with his fellow conspirators for plotting against the Government, and was subsequently executed in a rather brutal manner. Following the failed attack, the Government announced the 5th November as a National Thanksgiving day. The famous nursery rhyme: Remember, Remember, the 5th of November … was born, and served as a warning to future generations that treason will never be forgotten!
Nowadays, the 5th November is seen as a great excuse to munch on toffee apples and cinder toffee, let off some fireworks (responsibly, of course), and burn a straw dummy on a great big bonfire! What a fantastic winter tradition!
But not everyone celebrates Bonfire Night in quite the same way…
A small village in south Devon, called Ottery St Mary, have a rather risky tradition that dates back to the 17th century! They soak barrels in tar, set them alight, and then carry them through the town. The tradition goes that only those born in Ottery St Mary, or who have lived there for most of their lives, can carry the barrel. I’m quite glad I wasn’t born there!
But maybe the most impressive Bonfire Nights of all can be found in the small town of Lewes in East Sussex, now labelled the Bonfire capital of the world! These “guys” don’t mess about! 3,000 people take part in the celebrations, and 80,000 spectators visit the small town to watch the event. The festivities involve five different bonfire displays, tar barrels are burnt, impressive models of Guy Fawkes and Pope Paul V are paraded through the streets, and everyone is dressed as a smuggler (striped jumpers, white trousers, black boots and optional red hats)!
Bonfire Night sounds a tar barrel of laughs for these British towns! But amongst all the fun, fireworks, and sweet treats, it is so important to Remember, remember… please be safe!
Have a great Bonfire Night everyone!
Love Victoria, and the One Day team x
P.S. Have a look at our “Remember, Remember, the 5th of November” workshop, which explores the history of this fantastic winter tradition!