Saturday, November 7, 2015

Guy Fawkes Day : NOV 5

November 5 is an annual commemoration to observe Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night, Firework Night and Gunpowder Treason Plot Day. 

Burning Guy Fawkes effigy.

An old Guy Fawkes effigy. Photograph by John Thomson.

Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when a small group of English Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate the Protestant King James and replace him with his daughter, third in the line of succession, Princess Elizabeth.

Guy Fawkes

A contemporary engraving by Crispijn van de Passe

Although there were 13 conspirators involved in this failed conspiracy it is Guy [Guido] Fawkes who has become the iconic face of the plot through the years. Today Guy Fawkes is commemorated as "the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions".

This day is celebrated primarily in Great Britain, it was exported by settlers to colonies around the world, including members of the Commonwealth of Nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and various Caribbean nations. 

Bonfires are lit in Britain every 5th of November
to commemorate the failure of the plot.

Spectators watch a Nov 5 fireworks display.

In parts of North America it was known as Pope Day, celebrated mainly in colonial New England, but also as far south as Charleston

Although American colonists stopped its observation, in the 1880s bonfires were still being lit in some New England coastal towns but no longer to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.

In areas around New York, stacks of barrels were burnt on election day eve, which after 1845 was a Tuesday early in November.

Effigies of other notable figures who have become targets for the public's ire, such as Richard Nixon, Paul Kruger and Margaret Thatcher have been burned as well.

Protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks 
at a protest against Scientology in London 2008

According to historian Lewis Call, Fawkes is now "a major icon in modern political culture" whose face has become "a potentially powerful instrument for the articulation of postmodern anarchism." 

This is exemplified by the mask worn by V in the comic book series V for Vendetta, who fights against a fictional fascist English state.

Collectors edition cover, art by David Lloyd

V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd (with additional art by Tony Weare), published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics

Warner Bros. released a film adaptation of the same title in 2006

Anonymous (2013) by anonymous

"Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot..." 

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