In Great Britain, Bonfire Night celebrations take place on the 5th of November, when towns across the country carry on a tradition that started over 400 years ago.
In the 17th century, England was under the rule of the Protestant King James I. It was a dangerous time for Catholics as many laws had been passed against them and they had to practise their religion in secret. In 1605, a group of Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, plotted to kill the King. They hoped that he would be replaced by a Catholic king who would be more sensitive to their beliefs. The men plotted to use gunpowder to blow up the Houses of Parliament when the King would be there, and the plot therefore became known as the Gunpowder Plot. The group put the explosives in the cellar underneath Parliament, and a man named Guy Fawkes stayed there overnight to watch over them, and to light the fuse the next morning. However, a member of the government received an anonymous letter outlining the plot, and on the 5th of November soldiers discovered Guy Fawkes before he could set off the gunpowder.
To this day, on the anniversary of the failed plot, Great Britain celebrates the fact that the men were unsuccessful. Bonfires are lit and straw-filled effigies of Guy Fawkes, known as Guys, are burnt on the top of the fires. People hold sparklers, which are like tiny fireworks, and the night ends with a huge display of fireworks. There are also several traditional foods which are eaten on Bonfire Night, such as toffee apples, jacket potatoes and soup.
The events of November 5th are commemorated in the following poem, which is famous throughout Great Britain:
'Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!'
Bonfire Night is one of my favourite festivals, because I love wrapping up warm to watch the fireworks with my friends, and because it is a celebration which is unique to Great Britain. This year I will be in France on the 5th of November, so I will have to have my own Bonfire Night celebration!
Tell us about one of your favourite festivals or celebrations that takes place in your country.