Sunday, November 7, 2010

Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November: Bonfire Night

So if you've seen the film, V for Vendetta (one of my favorite movies), you'll remember the allusions to Guy Fawkes, the gunpowder plot, and the significance of November 5, 1605.  Or if you studied British or even World history in high school (I didn't - I was one of the lucky few who scraped by having only ever taken Washington State History and AP American History, so by the time I graduated, I had only a vague idea of the two World Wars and not much else.  I know what a Native American longhouse is but can't really recall the details of the Spanish Inquisition.), this will all sound familiar to you.  No?  Refresh your memory here (because I'm too lazy to explain and will also probably get it wrong).

Our time for fireworks is the 4th of July; for the Brits, it's the 5th of November.  And for our "garden" (I use the term "garden" loosely, because the green area behind our flat resembles a small park), it was the 6th of November, as we had a bonfire (pictured above) and a truly fantastic fireworks display last evening.  Thing is, as we live relatively close to quite a few other communal "gardens", it turned into somewhat of a Who Has The Biggest And Best Fireworks Display? competition (I'm pretty sure we won in terms of length and quality).  The other advantage of living near these other gardens is that by the end of the night, you really get three fireworks shows, since they're all viewable either from the street or your flat window, as we saw.  

The Brits like to celebrate with wine (mulled wine, if it's Christmas time) around a bonfire.  And why ever not?  It's big, it's warm and kids love it (under strict parental supervision, of course).  I also love that bonfires have been a traditional means of celebration since 1605, because as you know, I freaking love traditions (I went to Mount Holyoke, after all). 

It was a great feeling last night to see families out and about on the street enjoying the fireworks occurring around the block - I even saw a smattering of police officers filming the displays on their camera phones.  There was an especially friendly atmosphere in our garden, where we chatted with our neighbors and were offered sparklers to wave around with the under-5-year-olds (and there were a lot of those around).

Elsewhere across London and England, there were parties, celebrations and other fireworks going on well into the night - a truly great way to welcome the winter.

1 comment

  1. some of those fireworks and celebrations might have been to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, which was the day before GF.


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