Tag Archives: english holidays

Lewes Bonfires


“The Lewes Bonfire is a really interesting tradition that my uncle also told me about. There is a city called Bristol in England, Lewes is a small town near Bristol. Every year for an entire day everything gets shut down. Even the police, so there are technically no laws for that day, and you cannot enter or leave the town for the entire day. It started because in history, there were protestants murdered by catholics by burning them to death. This made people really mad and so every year they now celebrate the day with a lot of bonfires. It is so big that there are 7 committees just to organize the celebration. During the day there are floats that go through the streets and at night they all get lit in the bonfire. It is really weird because you will just wake up and there is a huge parade and no buses or trains are running.”


CD is a French woman in her early 20s. She was born and raised in Paris (and lives there now) but her family is originally from England. Many people in Europe know about the Lewes bonfires because it is such a large celebration. It is one of my British uncle’s favorite days. He grew up in England and in his youth he would go to Lewes with his friends solely to experience the celebrations. CD learned the history of this holiday from her uncle.


This folk festival is cyclical as it happens once yearly. It also exhibits symbolism through the ritual of building and subsequently burning the floats and it represents the appreciation of the protestant religion and their unjust persecution. The festival is very exemplary of the country’s identity as it emphasizes the revolution and political landscape of the culture and people both in the present and in the past.