Bonfire Night, also known as Cracker Night or Firework Night, is a very popular celebration in the United Kingdom. So, why is it so important and how do British people celebrate it?
Why Bonfire Night?
First of all, let’s talk briefly about English history. Although Bonfire Night is celebrated in every country of the Commonwealth, for British people it has a special meaning, as it commemorates the failure of a group of catholic conspirators in an attempt to assassinate the protestant King James I of England and VI of Scotland. By means of this plan, known as the Gunpowder Plot, the conspirators had the intention to blow out the House of Lords during the State Opening of English Parliament on 5th November 1605.
One of the leaders of the Gunpowder Plot was Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), whose actions have created a strong legacy in British legacy in British history. This is why Fawkes became the most popular character used to celebrate the Bonfire Night in the UK.
So, every 5th of November, Britons lit bonfires to commemorate the failure of the plot, both in major public displays and private gardens. In some parts of Britain, such as Essex, there are extensive procesions and fireworks displays, to celebrate Bonfire Night. Kids even burn dolls representing the effigy of Guy Fawkes. There are also typical dishes for this special ocassion; some of them are candy apples, jacket potatoes or bonfire toffee.
Here you a have a video where you can see how Bonfire Night is celebrated.
Despite of the sad end of Fawkes – he was tortured and executed, accused of High Treason – this historical character has become a very popular figure in British culture, and even in the United States. In Halloween parties, for example, its a popular disguise – masks representing his face can be found in many shops – and his character was used in the film V for Vendetta.
The real Guy Fawkes
The famous mask
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
You can also watch the video in youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF1951pENdk
Vocabulary for this article
Bonfire;a large fire that is made outside to burn unwanted things, or just for pleasure.
Blow up; to explode or to cause to explode
Fireworks; an explosive device for producing a display of light or a loud noise, used for signaling or as part of a celebration.
House of Lords; (in Britain) the upper chamber of Parliament, composed of the peers of the realm
Gunpowder; explosive mixture of substances in the form of a powder, used for making explosive devices and fireworks.
Jacket potatoes; baked potatoes, traditionally baked in a bonfire.
Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary