Why Do we have Fireworks and Bonfires on the 5th November ?

Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 into a Protestant family. He later became a Catholic. When James I became King in 1603 Guy Fawkes and other Catholics wanted less persecution, however James I still allowed this to continue. A small band of Catholics led by Robert Catesby plotted to kill the King. Guy Fawkes was invited to join this group as he had experience in working with explosives.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords when the king came to open Parliament on 5th November 1605. The conspirators hired a cellar and filled it with explosives. Guy Fawkes was selected to light the fuse. The plot was discovered on the 4th November and Guy Fawkes was arrested. He later signed a confession and was sentenced to the traitors death of being hung. However he jumped from the gallows and broke his own neck.

In the UK we celebrate the fact that plot was foiled by lighting bonfires to represent the fact that the king hadn’t been killed and we burn “Guys” or effigies of Guy Fawkes to signify his death. Fireworks are let off to represent the explosives that were never used. All over the country people celebrate with firework displays and bonfire night parties.

Lots of larger events are run  up and down the country to raise money for charity.

Did you know?

  • Fireworks can travel at speeds of 150 mph.
  • The word bonfire originated from the word “banefyre” which was the word for a funeral pyre.
  • The first fireworks originated in the Han Dynasty in China.
  • The Houses of Parliament still get checked in November prior to the state opening of Parliament as a result of the Gunpowder plot.
  • St Peter’s School in York does not celebrate Guy Fawkes night as Guy Fawkes was a former pupil and they refuse to burn his image out of respect for their pupil.