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Tutor Katie 's Column

Bonfire Night

Nov 6, 2017

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder treason

should ever be forgot!


This weekend (5th November) was Bonfire Night in the UK. It's one of my favourite holidays and has interesting historical origins.

In 1605, Catholicism was illegal and punishable by death in England. Unhappy with this, a group of Catholic revolutionaries planned to assassinate the king and kill many important figures by blowing up the Houses of Parliament with gunpowder. A man called Guy Fawkes was given the task of lighting the gunpowder fuses and the plan nearly succeeded. Unfortunately for him, he was discovered with only hours to spare and the plot was foiled. He was then sentenced to death. 


To celebrate the survival of the king, people began lighting bonfires and fireworks (to represent the gunpowder). This practice spread around the country and later (18th century), people began burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on these bonfires. A tradition began for children to beg for money for their effigies, often calling, “Penny for the Guy!”


Despite having a pretty violent origin, Bonfire Night is a still widely celebrated around Great Britain. Communities gather in fields, light bonfires and set off fireworks on 5th November. Now, we also eat apples dipped in toffee, drink hot wine and play with sparklers (a type of hand-held firework which burns slowly with coloured flames and sparks). This year, I joined a torch light parade in my local town.

Perhaps it’s strange that, as a nation, we celebrate a failed act of terrorism every year on 5th November. Regardless, Bonfire Night is a lot of fun and the perfect celebration to (literally) brighten the beginning of winter.

What are your thoughts? Would you like to celebrate bonfire night?





Treason - the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the king/queen

or government.


Revolutionary - a person who promotes extreme political change

To assassinate - murder/kill

To foil - to prevent/stop

Effigy - a doll/model of a person

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