Here in the UK, Guy Fawkes Night (aka Bonfire Night) is held every year on 5th November. This marks the day that a group of Catholics were caught trying to blow up the Houses Of Parliament, London in 1605. Guy Fawkes was guarding barrels of gun powder in the basement, under the House Of Lords in attempt to light it and kill King James I. He was unsuccessful and nobody was injured – but Guy Fawkes was tortured and killed. Every year since, we celebrate the King’s survival usually by fireworks displays and lighting bonfires.
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As I was growing up, we always did something on bonfire night so the magic has stayed with me and it’s still my tradition to celebrate it somehow every year!
How Can I Celebrate?
Attending fireworks and bonfire displays aren’t to everybody’s taste, so I have listed a few alternative ideas to consider this Autumn.
Visit Tar Barrels In Ottery St Mary
We are very lucky here in Devon to have the only town in the country that still follows the tradition of the barrels. At this event you can expect to see people carrying burning barrels on their shoulders through the streets, which was originally a pagan ‘ritual’ to cleanse the streets of evil spirits. The evening then concludes with lighting one of the biggest bonfires in the South West.
Eat Traditional Food
If you’re not one for big events and crowds of people, you can keep in the loop by eating some traditional bonfire night food. This includes oven baked potatoes, toffee apples and parkin- a traditional cake made with oatmeal, syrup and treacle. Find a recipe here.
Burn Wood In Your Garden
As we get to November it is likely you’ll have some garden waste or rubbish from the summer that you can burn in your own garden. Why not make your own bonfire? Last year we bought a chiminea and it was very easy (and better for my nerves) to burn wood and get that lovely bonfire smell without the worry of a bonfire getting out of control. Not that this is very likely if you keep an eye on it of course but I can still appreciate the easiness!
Watch A Giant Effigy Burn
Traditionally, giant effigies of Guy Fawkes are taken down the streets and then burnt in a bonfire. This is then followed by a series of fireworks to celebrate his execution. Lewes in Eat Sussex, England holds the biggest celebration of Bonfire Night in the world and every year they burn several effigies of hated public figures which attract thousands of visitors. You can get more information about this event here.
Light Sparklers At Home
Although I always go to see the fireworks, I often buy some sparkles to do in the garden for a bit of fun. As kids, my brother and I were always given a sparkler on bonfire night to do on the balcony and I remember feeling like such a grown up being allowed to hold something that was alight! They’re a really inexpensive way to have a bit of fun and hopefully get some nice photos!
Have a movie night!
Although not so traditional, why not do it your own way? (I actually sound like a Burger King advert lmao). There are many documentaries on this subject if you want to find out more, and BBC America also posted an article on some great movies to watch on bonfire night, which you can read here!
Watch the fireworks from your window
Before I moved, I was really lucky to have a house right at the top of the city so we had a view where we could see for miles and miles on a clear night, which of course was really handy on a night where everybody is letting off fireworks! We had a balcony right at the top with pretty much a panoramic view so I would sit out there at night time, wrapped up in layers and sipping my hot chocolate – bliss.
What about my pets?
The unfortunate side of Bonfire Night is highlighted when you have pets, especially dogs as they can get frightened by the loud noises. Be sure to keep all the doors and windows closed to muffle the noise as much as possible, and behave normally but calmly. It is suggested to distract your dog by other things such as television noise, and to reward calm behaviour with a treat.
I hope you enjoyed this #Blogtober post about Guy Fawkes night and learnt something new, or considered celebrating in a different way this autumn. Come back tomorrow so another Blogtober post!