Fun Facts: Guy Fawkes Night

Bonfires and firework displays entertain people across the UK every November 5th. Have you ever wondered why these shows take place?

The answer is that people are taking part in Guy Fawkes Night. This special evening is an annual celebration of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Guy Fawkes was a member of the Plot who was arrested beneath the House of Parliament. He attempted to blow up the building and kill the king. Fawkes and his friends tried to assassinate the Protestant King James and replace him with a Catholic.

Unfortunately for Fawkes, he was discovered by guards and was later sentenced to death. The British government later introduced the Observance of 5th November Act. This created a public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.

The day started to include popular traditions such as fireworks and bonfires. An image of Guy is typically burned on a bonfire on November 5th. In recent years, some people have even burned likenesses (or effigies) of unpopular politicians and celebrities!

There are various popular poems about the day, which always start with the same rhyme:

Remember, remember,
the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot

Fun facts about Guy Fawkes:

  • Political protesters sometimes wear Guy Fawkes masks to protect their identity.
  • You might recognize these masks if you've seen the film V for Vendetta, which is very loosely based on the story of Guy Fawkes.
  • The only place in the UK that does not celebrate Guy Fawkes Night is St. Peter’s School in York. Guy Fawkes went there as a boy and they refuse to burn his image in respect for their former pupil.
  • Guy Fawkes wasn't the main conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot,  but he had one of the most important roles. He guarded the gunpowder underneath the Houses of Parliament, and had he not been caught, he would have been charged with lighting it.
  • It is said that the word "guy" actually comes from the name Guy Fawkes. It originally meant "an ugly, repulsive person" but, throughout the years, simply became a synonym for "man".

Have you ever celebrated Bonfire Night? What about another holiday that includes fireworks? Tell Kaplan what you were celebrating on our Facebook page.

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