When I was a child, the time at the end of October and the beginning of November was always one of the most exciting times of the year. Yes, we dressed up as ghosts and vampires for Halloween, but my favourite day around that time of year was the fifth of November, known in the UK as Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night.
In 1605, a group of men planned to blow up the parliament building in London when the King and many important people were inside. Guy Fawkes, the man who was given the task of guarding the explosives underneath parliament, was arrested before he could light them. The King was saved and people all over London lit bonfires (large open-air fires) to celebrate. The day was later made a public holiday and the tradition of bonfires on the fifth of November was born.
Although it’s no longer a public holiday, people still follow the traditions of the past. Children make their own Guy Fawkes out of old clothes and straw, and collect money by asking: “Penny for the Guy?” As well as bonfires, fireworks are very popular and people either have their own fireworks in their garden or visit an organised display.
To people in most countries, the fifth of November is just a normal day. But as any British person will be able to tell you: “Remember, remember / The fifth of November / Gunpowder, treason and plot…”
When you were a child, what was your favourite day of the year?