Folk Holiday

Guy Fawkes Night

“Guy Fawkes Night is on the 5th of November. It is celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and burning ‘guys’, figures that look like Guy Fawkes- He plotted against Parliament and the king- he was going to blow up the Houses of Parliament”

This is the first time I have ever heard of Guy Fawkes Night, and Jayne has been my nanny for 18 years. From this, I conclude that Guy Fawkes Night is not that important of a holiday.

However, it is unique. There are no other celebrations alike to this of my knowledge. Instead of celebrating a hero, they celebrate the burning of an evil man. This holiday is not religious, but instead is intended to give a strong sense of national pride and understanding of the history of England.

As I further researched Guy Fawkes Night, it becomes clear that the reason for bonfires and fireworks is due to the way in which Guy Fawkes planned to attack the Parliament. He and his conspirators had stored gunpowder in the basement of the parliament. The fires and explosions set forth by the celebrations symbolize the gunpowder, and the burning of “guys” as Jayne describes seems to be a ritual that allows the British people to symbolize making his plan backfire year after year. They are almost throwing it in his face even though this happened in 1605 and he is long gone.

There have been seventeen assassination attempts on US presidents and none of them are celebrated with a national holiday. This is why I find it strange that such a day exists. Although it is portraying Guy Fawkes in a bad light, it is almost making him a national household name and I do not know if I think that he deserves to be recognized so widely.

Regardless, this is a very unique holiday that is very different from the celebrations that we use fireworks for in the US. But, we share this in common, the idea of firework displays during national holidays. The bonfire burning is almost cult like and not readily accepted in the US. The burning reminds me of old European counts of people burning at the stakes. Though this happened in colonies as well, I do not feel that the US would accept such an act to take place as part of a modern day ceremony for inappropriateness it would convey to children. It might also raise the crime rates if the US allowed such acts to be recognized.


“The Traditions of Guy Fawkes Night.” Hall of Festivites. 30 Apr. 2008 <>.

“List of United States Presidential Assassination Attempts.” Wikipedia. 21 Apr. 2008. 30 Apr. 2008 < assassination_attempts>.