As yet, Bonfire night – or Guy Fawkes night – is still not celebrated in Japan. In the United Kingdom, however, Bonfire Night (November 5) is a popular festival in which people wrap up warmly in scarves and gloves, gather around bonfires, and set off fireworks. Like Halloween, Bonfire Night is a great opportunity to enjoy the crisp early-winter evenings in a cosy atmosphere.
But why bonfires, and why November 5? Well, the following traditional rhyme gives us an explanation. It is often chanted by schoolchildren in England:
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
As the rhyme explains, Bonfire Night marks the anniversary of a controversial event in English history. On November 5, 1605, a Catholic revolutionary called Guy Fawkes attempted to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Luckily for the King, Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed with the cache of explosives before his plot could be carried out. He was then charged with high treason, tortured, and executed.
Today, the events of November 5, 1605 are commemorated with bonfires, sparklers, fireworks and general fun. Effigies of either Guy Fawkes or public hate figures (such as Margaret Thatcher) are also fairly common. However, history has been kind to Guy Fawkes and today he is viewed as something of an action hero!
bonfire (n.) ~ a controlled outdoor fire
to chant (v.) ~ to say something, like a rhyme, together
rhyme (n.) ~a type of
anniversary (n.) ~ the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event
controversial (adj.) ~something which often causes disagreement
assassinate (v.) ~ to murder a politically important person
to blow up (v.) ~ to destroy by exploding
to be caught red-handed (v.) ~ to be caught whilst in the middle of doing something bad
plot (n.) ~plan (usually bad)
high treason (n.) ~ planning to overthrow one’s government by assassinating the head of state
torture (v.) ~ inflicting pain in order to gain information, or as punishment
execute v.) ~ to be put to death according to law
commemorate (v.) ~ to serve as a reminder of
effigy (n.) ~ a handmade representation of someone which is often burned in a bonfire