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Remember, Remember the 5th of November

holding sparklers on bonfire night

Remember, Remember the 5th of November.  Bonfire Night is celebrated by so many of us, usually by watching fireworks, gathering around a bonfire and drinking hot chocolate.  It is an occasion that has a long history and has developed over the years into a fun family tradition, so we thought we would share some interesting facts.

Catholic dissident Fawkes and his twelve co-conspirators spent months planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605.  However, they were caught red-handed, allegedly lighting their 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar below the House of Lords, and their assassination attempt was foiled.

There would have been damage within a radius of almost 500 metres if Guy Fawkes had managed to light the 2,500kg of gunpowder underneath the Houses of Parliament. Londoners immediately began lighting bonfires in celebration of the plot having failed, and a few months later Parliament declared the 5th November a public day of thanksgiving. 

Guy Fawkes Burning Effigy

Extremely brutal forms of execution were the penalty for anyone who attempted to cross the monarchy. One such form of execution was known as being hanged, drawn, and quartered. A slow and painful method involving a prisoner being hanged until the brink of death, before being cut down to have their intestines pulled from their bodies. Following that, they would have their genitals cut off and then, thankfully, they would be beheaded. This was to be Guy Fawkes fate after being found guilty of conspiracy to blow up parliament although Fawkes managed to escape the hangman's platform at his public hanging ceremony and fell to an instant death. His body was immediately brought back onto the platform and was still hung drawn and quartered as a warning to others who may have had plans to replace the monarch.

During World War I and World War II, no one was allowed to set off fireworks or light bonfires. This was part of an act of parliament in 1914 called The Defence of the Realm Act, which aimed to protect people during the war by not showing the enemy where they were.

Up until 1959 it was illegal NOT to celebrate Bonfire Night in Britain? so during the world wars people celebrated the event indoors.

The name “bonfire” derives from the term “bone fire”; in the Middle Ages, these types of fires were usually set up in order to burn bones.

Fireworks were invented by accident.  In the 10th century, a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common cooking ingredients (sulphur, charcoal and a salt substitute) and set it alight, which resulted in colourful flames.

fireworks display

Fireworks first reached Europe in the 14th century. Initially, they were produced by the Italians and the first recorded display took place in Florence.

The first recorded fireworks display in England was at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486.

However you are spending Bonfire Night, always remember to be safe.

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