Every November the fifth, we begin to see plenty of pictures of a man with a flowing beard and a somewhat pointed hat, and the name Guy Fawkes everywhere in the UK and some of Australia. We recall what happened in England on that day in England—what is called the Gunpowder Plot—in 1605. For a lot of people, especially the younger generations today, this particular day is nothing but a day for having bonfire and fireworks. However, if you actually dug deeper into the history behind this day, you’ll find out that there is something so important to England and to the people that took place during that time and in order to better celebrate and enjoy the fifth of November properly, also called Fawkes night, here are some of the things about that day in 1605 that made all of this yearly rejoicing possible until today.
The story of Guy Fawkes
If you would look at the bonfire and fireworks everywhere without having an idea about the history behind the celebrations, you would not even imagine that this day is being celebrated because of a plot to assassinate the most important person in England, a plot that occurred hundreds of years ago. Although the plot to kill the king was not started particularly by Guy Fawkes, he was one of the conspirators for the plot and was very much determined to get the job done.
So all these celebrations actually started with a group of people who wanted to do away with the king and replace him with another person. The bonfire and fireworks are not, of course, celebrating the conspiracy of a few men. What actually happened is that the plot to kill the king failed and to this day, the people of England are celebrating the fact that the elaborate plot to blow up the House of Lords and assassinate the king was not successful.
If you have read a bit about the history of Guy Fawkes, you must be already familiar about the part that he played in the assassination plot. During the night of November 5, 1605, Fawkes was somewhere outside the House of Lords, whose cellars were packed with barrels that contained gunpowder. This is also the reason why the assassination plot is now referred to as the “Gunpowder Plot“. According to the Guy Fawkes story, the man was standing outside the building with a watch and a slow match, which was supposed to be used to trigger a huge fire.
Well, somehow, the bonfire and fireworks are appropriate, if not a bit ironic, to celebrate this day … especially considering that the conspirators used gunpowder and attempted to cause a gigantic fire. The conspirators were tortured and hanged days after their assassination plot was discovered, all because of a warning letter that was sent to a man names Lord Monteagle that said that he should remain in his quarters that night because something bad was going to happen. The letter was sent to the king, and a search of all the cellars was conducted. Without that letter, who knows where England would be today. One thing is for sure, it would certainly be a lot different!
Knowing the history makes these celebrations far more important, and in my opinion, all children should understand why they are launching fireworks, standing around fires and burning their guys. You don’t need to give graphic details, but children should know a bit about their heritage.