Friday, 5 November 2010

Britain's 9/11 of 1605

Today, 5 November, is known as Guy Fawkes Day, when people in Britain take to the streets and fields lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks to remember the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Terrorist Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606) and accomplices were captured in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with enough explosive to send King James I of England and VI of Scotland and members of Parliament to the next life a few hours later at the opening of Parliament.

No doubt, had there been planes at the time, that's a method the conspirators might have used. Remember, a few years prior to 9/11 there was an attempt to blow up New York's World Trade Centre using explosives beneath it

Over the years the Gunpowder Plot remembrance morphed into an annual tradition sustained by the economic benefit in the manufacture and sale and of fireworks (money up in smoke). The bonfires were a useful means of disposing of the year's detritus and anything else flammable. Traditionally the fire would be topped with a Guy made of straw and old clothes which had previously been paraded in a handcart round the community by kids asking for "A Penny for the Guy."

How will 9/11 be remembered in the year 2406?


Anonymous said...

In the darkness of November Guy Fawkes day fireworks are a good excuse to brighten up and liven up a dim month.

Caroline Gurney said...

I suspect that Guy Fawkes celebrations got attached to a far older tradition of autumn bonfires, dating back to the Celtic festival of Samhain.