Guy Fawkes Night
Guy Fawkes Night is one of the most widespread and thriving of all the British holidays and one that was decreed by an act of Parliament. It was in the early hours of November 5, 1605, that Guy Fawkes was arrested. He had hidden 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellar of Parliament and planned to blow it up that day, an act that would have wiped out the entire government of England–clearing the way for a Roman Catholic coup.
There are several theories, one of which claims that the gunpowder plot was covertly encouraged by an administration anxious to discredit its Catholic opponents. Whatever the truth, the act sparked a nationwide explosion of patriotism and Protestant enthusiasm. The commemoration has become a night replete with bonfires, beer-drinking, fireworks and bands of children begging for money. Topping off the evening’s festivities, effigies of Guy Fawkes are tossed onto the bonfires.