Sunday, November 4, 2007

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!




Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night, also called Bonfire Night. We remember, remember the fifth of November, because it's the day in 1605 that Catholic radical Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators did NOT blow up the Houses of Parliament in protest of King James I's Protestant England.


The infamous Gunpowder plot was discovered the day before it was meant to happen, and Fawkes was eventually tried and executed. So, to celebrate, Brits blow up fireworks and have bonfires. Isn't it ironic. (In fact, the irony reminds me of this line from Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot: "It is curious that we Americans have a holiday -- Thanksgiving -- that's all about people who left their homes for a life of their own choosing, a life that was different from their parents' lives. And how do we celebrate it? By hanging out with our parents! It's as if on the Fourth of July we honored our independence from the British by barbecuing crumpets.")

The villages around Cambridge have had fireworks for what feels like daily for the past week or more, and tonight was the big climax: an awesome fireworks display, a carnival, and a bonfire. Impressive!

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