Friday, November 06, 2009

Guy Fawkes Night Bonfire

This may seem rather ironic, but last night I went to watch a bonfire for the occassion of Guy Fawkes Night. It's ironic because the celebration of Guy Fawkes Night started after Mr. Fawkes tried to blow up the Parliament Buildings in London, along with the King, because English Catholics had very few rights. Fawkes and his associates had hoped that King James I, whose mother was Catholic, would be more sympathetic to the cause of Catholics and allow more freedom. But he didn't. So, Guy Fawkes took matters into his own hands.

Fawkes had prepared many barrels of gunpowder in the lower chambers of the parliament buildings. Everything was ready, but he was caught before he could proceed with his plot. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered. A gruesome death.

Every year since then, people have burned effigies of Guy Fawkes, and shockingly also the Pope. Guy Fawkes Night, now mostly known as Bonfire Night, is celebrated in our province of Newfoundland, but without the effigies or anti-Catholic sentiment. I would estimate about half the people who participate are Catholic.

The reason I went was to watch an enormous bonfire, with hundreds of people gathered around. Since it is banned in my city, I had to go to a nearby town to watch the fire. This one was officially set up by the fire department. Often, there is trouble on this night because people make their own fires. In fact, a house was burnt down last night. But apparently the situation is much better than it was in the past.

There's something primal about watching an enormous bonfire. With all the people gathered around, it gives a good sense of community, and it's fun to watch a fire which is fueled by dozens, perhaps hundreds of trees. With the anti-Catholic sentiment removed, these festivities are quite enjoyable.


  1. Why didn't god keep the house from burning down?

  2. Probably because this is an anti-Catholic festival and God wanted to show his disapproval for it, so he let the house burn down.

    Of course I'm just kidding. God didn't burn down the house, the fire did.