Happy Bonfire Night!


 “A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.” ~Guy Fawkes

P for Protest

I think the Brits have a lot of cooler things than the Americans. They gave us the Beeb, the Beatles and Stones, Rowan Atkinson, Fry and Laurie, the Aston Martin, British racing green, bangers and mash, George Orwell, Doctor Who. That’s not to say they have their drawbacks (London rain, anyone?) but I’ve always been a hearty Anglophile. Plus, their accents are just cooler than ours. I don’t know of any place where one can call someone “old chap” in America without the threat of bodily harm.

And there’s Guy Fawkes night, which happens to be tonight. The closest American equivalent would be a mashup of Independence Day and Halloween, but nothing can really compare to this uniquely British Empire celebration. For those who may not know, a brief overview, from Wiki:

Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and VI of Scotland and replace him with a Catholic head of state. The survival of the king was first celebrated on 5 November 1605, after Guy Fawkes, left in charge of the gunpowder placed underneath the House of Lords, was discovered and arrested.[1]

V for Very Cool British Guy

In fact, the vernacular term “guy” is taken from the effigy of Fawkes traditionally burned upon a bonfire. In latter years, political figures such as Margaret Thatcher or John Major’s effigies have taken the place of the 17th-century Fawkes.

Americans are likely to know the observance one of two ways: either through the pet phoenix of Professor Dumbledore, Fawkes, or more likely through the recent hit V For Vendetta, in which a modern-day revolutionary takes on the role of Guy Fawkes to destroy a totalitarian, 1984-style government.

You have to admit…all of this is just cool. The fact that a celebration remains alive today commemorating an event that happened more than 400 years ago. The closest thing Americans have is Thanksgiving, which ostensibly remembers the Puritan Pilgrims landing in New England in the year 1621. Same general era…but isn’t burning someone in effigy a lot more fun than the Detroit Lions on TV and passing the cranberry sauce to Aunt Flora?

Even if you’re one of those Americans who doesn’t bloody well care about what goes on in other countries (and you know who you are), have a happy Bonfire Night. If you must grill anyone in effigy, do so in a safe and sane manner on your barbeque, or get a permit from the fire marshal. And exercise your freedom of speech in doing so while you’re at it!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence [or By God’s mercy] he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!

Got comments? I’d love to hear ’em. Drop me a line at wikusandmurdock@yahoo.com!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on November 6, 2010.

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