Gunpowder Day (Guy Fawkes Night/Fireworks Night) is a holiday celebrated in the UK on November 5 in commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. This historic event could have changed the course of history, yet ultimately it failed.
The Gunpowder Plot was led by Robert Catesby, the leader of a group of English Catholics from the provinces. With his influential associates, he created a plan to assassinate the reigning monarch, King James. The idea was to cause an explosion while the king was visiting parliament.
The plan was meticulously prepared and involved equipping a basement under the chamber with 36 powder kegs. Guy Fawkes was tasked with the undermining, but he never had the chance to carry it out, as he was caught and arrested.
The news quickly spread throughout the population and people rejoiced for the health and safety of the king. On November 5, people took to the streets, lit bonfires and released fireworks to show their appreciation and relief. This tradition of celebrating Gunpowder Day has been carried on ever since, with the night sky lit up with lights and people remembering the tragedy that never happened.
There are a few interesting facts about Guy Fawkes:
- He converted to Catholicism at the age of 16.
- He was not the leader of the conspiracy, but a key figure.
- After his arrest, he was taken to meet the king and answered calmly and confidently, calling him a “disease”.
- During the conspiracy, he used an assumed name, John Johnson.
- He was sentenced to be quartered, but he managed to break his neck by jumping off the gallows. His body was then cut into pieces and sent to different parts of the country to warn other conspirators.
How to take part
Gunpowder Day is a spectacular holiday and if you have the opportunity to attend events, you should take it! It is celebrated in countries such as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. The holiday is marked by bonfires, fireworks, and firecrackers, and people also enjoy cooking fire toffee and gingerbread pies.
When is Gunpowder Day celebrated in 2023?
Gunpowder Day is observed on November 5 each year.