So Halloween, like October, is over. That's sad and we should take a moment to miss them both.
Life goes on however, and in the UK we are still reeling from the joy of being able to see cobwebs for sale in petrol stations and kids running round with plastic pumpkins demanding sweets (candy) with no thankyou, being cruelly snatched away by the ultimate party pooper, time.
However, over here we have an almost immediate tonic; Guy Fawkes Night. I like Guy Fawkes Night a lot; but as I realised when I went stateside, where you don't have it (i guess you do your fireworks on July 4th...big whoop), I don't really know much about the origins of the celebrations save for the basics. I thought I'd take some time out to educate all of our sorry ass' by performing a little bit of research* and sharing with you all the fruits of my labour.WHEN????
Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated on November 5th. This is because in 1605 a few people thought it would be great if the King were dead and decided to make it so by attempting to blow up the houses of parliament, KAPOW! They failed, but none the less, we celebrate it on the day it was supposed to take place/was prevented.WHY????
Around the time 1605, the Catholics were getting a raw deal in England, that was perceived by some (steady on, we'll find out who soon), to soon be getting a lot rawer with King James I thought to be in the pocket of the protestant elite and under the thumb of thos damn puritans (do they EVER stop complaining????). James was first pretty good to the Catholics, then caved into peer pressure and said he hated them. Catholics were generally seen as bad news because of the Spanish Armada that tried to attacK England, and the pope told people in England they could go their own way, which pissed off the first elizabeth. James effectively criminalised a religon; it was decided that he needed to go...BIG TIME.
We celebrate by letting off fireworks which are obviously symbolic of the explosion that would have happened if they had pulled it off. We also have bonfires, where we often burn an effigie of guy fawkes. Actually, Guy Fawkes was not burnt at the stake; he was hung till half dead, then drawn and quartered. The fireworks were lit over England to celebrate the fact the King had not been killed. Either way, there seems to be some conflict here; we seem to celebrate what could of happened and the fact that it did not happen at the same time. WHY? Well, who really questions why there's a party, only how much beer there is, and this must be the reason why we continue this paradoxical celebration.WHO????
Yes, it's called Guy Fawkes night, and he was indeed a leading protaginist in this almost explosive
period in Britain's history, but he was not alone, nor was he even the ringleader. (Cue Oceans 11 type music as we introduce the likely suspects)
Ringleader: Robert Catesby, who was a devout catholic whose father had been imprisoned for harbouring a priest and was forced to leave university without a degree. He didn't even get to moon the crusty ol' dean; a score that may have been transferred onto James. He was pretty clever and charming, so could persuade people to join his cause.
The connections man: Thomas Wintour, who knew a lot of people. Apparently.
The Insider: Thomas Percy;
he was a minister or something.
The hanger on: Jack Wright. Making up numbers; if your going to blow up the houses of parliament, you need people, right?
The firestarter: Our man Guy Fawkes. He was born a protestant but fought for the Catholic Spanish in europe...He was a good soldier who knew all about gunpowder. His job was to light the fuse, make a dash for it to europe, where he would persuade european kings/leaders to accept the plot, if not support it. Easy.
Overtime they got more people on board, probabaly by promising them alcohol and cake and the promise of a laugh or two. It did prove to be a case of too many cooks however, as one of the newcomers is believed to have blown the whistle on the plotters leading to their capture....
These people were beyond the point of petitions, holding signs, writing pointed letters of complaint, and even the chanting of numerous catchy slogans. These people meant business.WHERE???
Houses of Parliament, London. Not these ones
, they hadn't been built, but a smaller one. They actually had leased out the undercroft, effectively the basement of their target, which made their job a lot easier.
It is celebrated mostly in the UK but other countries in Europe do it...Most peeps go to a display, just like your silly july 4th celebrations. Lewes, in Sussex England, is very enthusiastic. They really get into it all, dressing up, which is good, but there is a line which is often crossed. As well as displaying symbols specific to the time being celebrated that also have obvious and negative connotations
in more recent history they also get a little topical; a recent float in 2001 was of Osama Bin Laden sitting on the toilet with a bald eagle digging its talons into his back and actually lifting him off the toilet; though i can't remember if you could see his bum. Either way, somewhat tacky.WOULD IT HAVE WORKED????
A tv show just dealt with this question and used the exact amount of gunpowder Guy Fawkes used (1 metric ton of gunpowder, 36 barrells of the stuff) and detonated it underneath an accurate replica of the houses of parliament. It blew the shit out of that thing; they placed blast monitors on dummies of the king and people like that which were just obliterated. It would have killed the King, but likely would only led to a bigger crack down on catholics...gotta find a better way to beat the man, man. For more info go here
(why i couldn't just do that in the first place i don't know. Hey, deal with it.
All this boils down to the fact that some children will lose various body parts over this weekend in England, and people will be enthralled with writing their names with a sparkler...
I hope this has enlightened you, but if you're like me, then you'll be thinking more and more that ignorance really is bliss, and that since reading this, something inside of you, if it has not died completely, has become significantly smaller. Sorry.
*I watched some programe on it and looked at the site i have linked to.