Bonfire Night is almost here. November 5th is synonymous with bonfires, fireworks and fun. It’s a uniquely British event, which begs the question: does anyone else celebrate bonfire night?
What’s Bonfire Night about?
The event is about a foiled gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I during the Opening of the Parliament in 1605. It involved five main conspirators, although up to 13 people were eventually involved in the plot. The group resorted to this violent plan because they were fed up with the persecution of Catholics in the country.
The most famous conspirator was Guy Fawkes, who’s also known as Guido Fawkes. He was in charge of getting the gunpowder barrels underneath the Parliament and he was supposed to light them up on November 5th. However, the King was tipped off about the plot and all the conspirators were captured and killed.
A British celebration around the world
The UK celebrates November 5th with firework displays, bonfire parties and parades. It’s a big night in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Because Bonfire Night is such a British event, expats around the world have also taken the party with them.
If the country has a large British settlement and community, chances are they will organise some kind of party – even if it is just among friends and family. However, this might not be the case in Catholic countries, for obvious reason. While some people celebrate the night in honour of a group of men trying to stick it to the Parliament, it is originally still a celebration of saving the King’s life and catching the Catholic conspirators.
You can find parties in British parts of Canada and in South Africa. New Zealand also uses the occasion to celebrate the coming summer – there have even been November 5th parties in Istanbul, Turkey.
Bonfire Night never caught on in the US
British settlers to the US did try creating a Bonfire Night tradition in the US. The event was actually referred to us the Pope’s Day and it was celebrated regularly in places like Boston and New York. It was a rather malicious party – anti-Catholic revellers burnt effigies of the Pope and other hated figures.
When the American Revolution happened, the day turned out to be a bit of an anti-British party. The party started to fizzle out and as Halloween became ever more popular, the US turned its back on Bonfire Night.
Could firework laws be the reason?
Bonfire Night is closely associated with firework displays and big bonfires. But different countries around the world sometimes have strict fireworks laws that often limit when and what you can use. This could be the reason the celebrations have never really gotten on in places like Australia and others. It’s hard to imagine a proper Bonfire Night party without fireworks, right?
Luckily, the UK has plenty of parties on and around November 5th. You can also shoot fireworks until midnight on Bonfire Night. Check out our online store for ideas and have a good time this November 5th!