Guy Fawkes Night
The Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott, said “November’s sky is chill and drear”, which is rather sad. However, remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot! This is a rhyme that every school student in England knows. Where does it come from? On 5th November 1605, a group of conspirators decided to blow up the Houses of Parliament. It was the day of the State Opening of Parliament, so everyone would be there, including the King, James I. However, one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was discovered in the cellars with barrels of gunpowder the night before, and that was the end of the plot. Since then, the 5th November – or Guy Fawkes Night – has been celebrated in England with big bonfires, fireworks, and a model of Guy himself burnt on the bonfire! Until recently, children were seen in the streets of English cities with an effigy of Guy Fawkes, usually old clothes stuffed with straw, asking for “a penny for the guy”. The money was spent on fireworks, but nowadays children can’t buy fireworks in England because they are dangerous, so the guys have more or less gone. Rival gangs of children used to see how much money they could get and the gang with most money had the most fireworks and therefore won! Rivalry continued with an activity which used to be common at this time of year – conkers! The conker is the nut from a horse-chestnut tree, and the game is to thread a conker onto a piece of string and see how many other conkers you can break with yours. Many schools in England have now banned this and other games because of health and safety regulations. Because of this, many old games once played by children have unfortunately disappeared.