Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night and Halloween

Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night and Halloween

We seem to have gone head over heels for the American Halloween and dumped poor Guy Fawkes. What is that about?

Is it more creeping Americanisation as we head to become another off-shore State?

Or is it merely the culmination of another commercial opportunity?

When I was a lad we didn’t have Halloween at all. We had Firework night on November 5th. That was it. We made Guys, (effigies of Guy Fawkes) put them in pushchairs and took them round the streets with the cry ‘Penny for the Guy’. Out of the donations we bought bangers. In the evening on the 5th we had a bonfire and threw our Guy on it and let off fireworks.

It was all very British. We were celebrating the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and James 1st.

The plot was organised by a group of Catholics who were suffering enormous religious persecution at that time. The Protestant Theocracy was torturing Catholics hideously – killing them by burning, evisceration, pressing with weights and hanging. A group of Catholics led by Robert Cateby, with John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham planned a revolution. It was to start by blowing up the Houses of Parliament with James 1st on November the 5th. They smuggled in 36 barrels of gunpowder to do the job. Interestingly Thomas Percy, thought to be the brains behind the operation, was an alumnus of my school.

I have a lot of sympathy with the Catholics who were suffering such terrible repression.

Guy Fawkes was discovered and they were all either shot or captured, horribly tortured and hung, drawn and quartered.

Every year since 1605, four hundred and twelve years this year, we have celebrated the gunpowder plot. I’m not certain if we are celebrating the fact that it failed or that someone at least had the guts to try blowing the bastards up.

Halloween, on the other hand, was a pagan harvest festival that was adopted by Christians. It had Celtic roots and was transported out to America where it flourished. The pagan tradition can be clearly seen with its Jack-o-Lantern, witches, ghouls, and other pagan embellishments. I always wonder why Christian Americans are so enthused with pagan themes.

Anyway it seems we have reimported it big time and trick and treat is replacing blowing things up.

Ho hum.