Bonfire Night!

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
should ever be forgot.

What better thing to do on a dark, cold autumn night than light a huge bonfire and set off fireworks? It’s a fabulous celebration. I have very happy memories of Bonfire Nights when I was a child, waving a sparkler, excited beyond measure at seeing it write my name in the air. We’d go home afterwards for hot chocolate and cheesy baked potatoes. Lots of fun.

But it didn’t originate just as a fun thing to cheer up a cold season. Bonfire Night’s been an English tradition since 1605, when a conspiracy to blow up the House of Lords – and in so doing kill the king – was discovered and foiled. The man in charge of the pile of explosives was Guy Fawkes, and so Bonfire Night was known as Guy Fawkes night. In many places, there was a tradition of burning a ‘guy’ – a figure made out of clothes stuffed with straw, to represent Guy Fawkes. Or, depending who you were, the Whore of Babylon, i.e. the pope.

Complicated 17th century political and religious origins notwithstanding, Bonfire Night is a really fun tradition. Much more so, in my opinion, than Halloween a few nights earlier where children are encouraged to go round begging sweets from strangers. :)

And to celebrate Bonfire Night this year I have a new story! More about that later…


  • Ms. Clarke, I so enjoyed this post. What lovely, happy memories!

    I have a little story: Many years ago at work I was called in to witness a last will and testament. This sweet old lady, when she started to sign and noted the date, paused and looked around the room, and then with great drama, like a 1930s radio announcer, she said slowly and seriously, “Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason, and plot.”

    And she stopped there and looked around the room expectantly at all of these 20-something Americans, four blank faces and mine. So I picked it up and slowly recited, with as close to her manner as I could, the remainder of it.

    She gave me such a smile! I have never forgotten her – or Bonfire Night – in all these years. So thank you for sharing your memories, and letting me share mine. Looking forward to your new story!