Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night


Today is a very special day in the United Kingdom.  On 5th November every year, Britons celebrate Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night.  This is the anniversary of Fawkes' attempt to blow-up the Houses of Parliment and kill the king.  

On this night, outdoor fires (known as bonfires) are lit and effigies of Guy Fawkes are burnt.  There are brilliant firework displays, children play with sparklers and huge parties are held across the country.  

On this night we eat special food, such as treacle toffee, parkin (a spicy ginger cake) and black peas with vinegar.  

Today at the school, our students will be learning more about this very British festival.  

Here are 10 about Guy Fawkes:


1. Guy Fawkes was born April 13th 1570 in Stonegate in York. He was educated at St. Peter’s school in York.


2. There were two reasons why the Gunpowder plot was created. The first was because Guy Fawkes converted to Catholicism when he was 16, at this time the Church of England would not tolerate Roman Catholicism. Therefore you could not worship the Catholic Faith freely in England, this was the same for all the participants in the Gunpowder plot.

The second reason was because that king James I (the king of the time) was Scottish and many people opposed to England being under Scottish rule, the plot was meant to stop this.


3. Guy Fawkes fort in the war between Spain and the Dutch which is when he changed his name to Guido, probably because he thought it sounded Spanish.


4. There was 36 barrels of gunpowder that was meant to go off that night which would have been enough to completely destroy the building and damage anything within a mile radius. It is thought that the gunpowder had “decayed” and if it had been lit wouldn’t have exploded anyway!


5. Guy Fawkes used the name John Johnson when involved with the plot and this is the name he gave when arrested.


6. Guy Fawkes was voted the 30th greatest Briton in a pole conducted in 2002 by BBC!


7. When taken to the King’s bedchamber to explain why we wanted to kill him and blow up parliament he answer calmly that he regarded the King as a disease since he had been excommunicated by the Pope. He also explained that he needed such a huge quantity of gunpowder “To blow you Scotch beggars back to your own native mountains!”


8. It took four days of torture before Guy Fawkes admitted his role in the plot and gave the other participants names. They were all tried on January 31st 1606 and then hung, drawn and quartered in the Old Palace Yard in Westminster. This means he wasn’t thrown onto a bonfire, this only happens to straw dummies made of him since.


9. An uninhabited island in Galapagos Islands is named Isla Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes Island. Who knows why? Maybe he planned to escape there?


10. Many people nowadays refer to a man as a “guy”. The term guy was originally a term for an “ugly, repulsive person” in reference to Guy Fawkes, this is why we refer to the dummy we throw on the bonfire as a “guy”. Over time “guy” began to be used as a term for a man (possibly as a half-meant insult) and is still used today.



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