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Fireworks, Festivals and Firefighters

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Alice Alice | 15:04 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

This week the night sky is full of fireworks. The Halloween ghost and witch masks have been put away for another year but Britain is gearing up for Bonfire Night on Friday. I'm Alice and I'm your November teacher. I'm really excited about meeting you all and reading your comments.

For people in Britain, November is synonymous with fireworks and the beginning of winter. It's often very cold and drizzly and everybody worries that the fireworks might be spoiled by rain.

On November 5th in 1605 a man named Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, Britain's government buildings in London. He and a group of plotters put gunpowder in a cellar under the building. Their plot was uncovered and Guy Fawkes was arrested. Every year British people come together for bonfire parties and lots of fireworks.

This year Bonfire Night is in the news for other reasons. Firefighters in London who are upset about changes to their contracts are planning to go on strike on November 5th - usually their busiest night of the year.

I'd like to know about the biggest firework celebrations where you live. There's 4th of July Independence Day in the United States, and National Day in China. What do fireworks mean for you? Do they remind you of summer or winter?

Some of the language I've used today:

gearing up - getting ready and prepared
Bonfire - large burning pile of wood
synonymous - here, equivalent in meaning, strongly associated
drizzly - light rain
to blow up - to explode
plotters - people who develop a secret plan
gunpowder - explosive material
bonfire party - a large organised fire outside
on strike - employees refuse to work

I'm really looking forward to reading your comments and communicating with you all.

Best wishes



  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Alice! And welcome to the "playground" (*_*)! It's great to start with fireworks!! Sounds like November will be as flashing, sparkling and shining as fireworks...Nice!
    Well about fireworks, in my country, like everywhere, there are mostly set in christmas and new year days..
    Anyway! You know the song?! Really really really looking forward to getting some shining and captivating entries from you. Thanks!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi, Alice.

    Just to let you know that is a pleasure to have you here like our Teacher Blogger.

    You're welcome.

    Cheers - Natanael - Rio de Janeiro - Brasil

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello Alice!
    Nice to meet you! The most significant holiday in my country is the Victory Day in the Second World War (or the Great Patriotic War for my country). We celebrate it on May 9th. It’s the day when we have biggest fireworks all over the country. They are even bigger than those we have on the New Year and Christmas days. Of course the greatest fireworks are in Moscow on the Red Square, and the muscovites don’t have to worry about them being spoiled by rain, because the authorities always take pains to clear up the sky above Moscow on this particular day. As for me, fireworks have nothing to do with the seasons, they mean high spirits, holidays for me; they are just pretty beautiful to look at. They also remind me of rich people who have fireworks on their birthday parties, wedding ceremonies and the like. I’m looking forward to reading your next post. By the way, I think you are lucky to have such a student as Natanael, off the record - he is a wonderful guy:).

    Bye for now, best wishes
    Svetlana, Russia

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi, Alice, greeting from Shelley in Shenzhen China.
    firework remind me of festivals, wedding or open/close celebrition of big events, such as olympic champion.
    in china, the greatest annual firework is for Chinese lunar new year, at the eve of lunar new year, everybody do whatever he/she can do to get together with families, it's winter, but gathering is very warm, in both of home and heart, adults prepare a lot of tasty food, chat, play card or majiang, children put on new cloths, play faircrackers and fireworks, it's a little dangerous, but children are exciting and happy, since happiness is the main theme in this tranditional holiday, they are allow to play fireworks from Lunar Jan 1~15th, so you may hear a lot of noise at the night of Chinese lunar new year holiday. in some big city, fireworks is not allowed by individual due to the risk of fire disaster, community or organization will have fireworks in designed location to create holiday atmasphere, citizens just watch and enjoy wonderful fireworks.
    this topic bring me very sweat memory, 3th Feb, 2011 is coming Chinese lunar new year, expecting~~
    Best regards
    Shanling Shen

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Alice,:-)
    I’m glad to meet you, how are you? I’m Thomas and I come from Italy.
    Italy is a country know throughthout the world: fashion, pasta, pizza, sweets, and finally for its art and its history.
    My country is divide into regions. Each region has its traditions and its festivities brightened by firewoks.
    However, I can say that we have 4 national holidays celebrated with fireworkd and costumes:
    1)January 1st: we celebrate the new year
    2)25 April we celebrate liberation Day: end of the second worldwar in Italy and the liberation from fascim.
    3)June 2nd we celebrate the Feast of the Italian Repubblic: national day wich celebrates the birth of the Italian republic (2 june 1946)
    4)Augsut 15 the catholic church recalls the assumption on the blessed virgin mary.
    That’s all for now
    Have a nice day.

  • Comment number 6.

    Welcome and nice to meet you Alice!
    Could you tell us a bit more about you please?
    All the best,
    Ana Paula, Brazil.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Alice,
    nice to meet you. In Italy we have fireworks all year round, especially in summer and, of course, in New Year's day. In summer there're a lot of festivals, which often close with beautiful and breath-taking fireworks.
    I love fireworks because they remind me hot and carefree summer days.
    This year I'm going to one of UK's bonfire party ... I'm so excited!!!
    Best wishes

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello Alice,

    First of all, let me give you a very warm welcome. Hope everything's going well with you.

    Memory's coming back to me today when I found the name Alice in the teacher blog. Can you guess what I'm going to tell you? Of course, it's going to be a surprise.

    It's the name of my favourite English language teacher, who definitely has a huge influence on my English. In fact, I only spent with her three months as I already had a good foundation of the language.

    As I'm sure you will do the same thing for me and other learners of this wonderful blog. Your great job is vey much appreciated, as always.

    It's a real pleasure for me to have met you over the Internet. And I wish you the best of luck with everything in your life.

    Talk to you again soon,


  • Comment number 9.

    hello ,live in hong kong ,a part of china .
    the delightful festival to me includes Lunar New Year ,the national day and Christmax .it is pleasant not beacause it is a holiday,it is enjoyable day which you could lead a colorful day.To me ,fireworks mean prosperity ,giving me hope and new goal to achieve .
    referring to the meaning of firework , that is a symbol of a new year ,of letting bygones be bygones ,and you will have good luck and good fortune .

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Alice,
    Welcome to this wonderful blog class. We, Indians are gearing up for famous Hindu festival Deevali tomorrow. People all over India are celebrating this festival irrespective of religion. We can see display of colorful fireworks everywhere. Winter just begins in my place. As you mentioned in your blog rain may spoil the festive season and fireworks.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hello Alice and welcome!

    If I am not mistaken, you are Alice who used to be one of the moderators of the BBC LE e-mail discussion group? When I read the name Alice and saw your picture, I rushed to write you a message. I still remember your face but now you wear short hair. I am really looking forward to reading your reply:)

    All the best

    Naheed (Pakistan)

  • Comment number 12.

    Hello everyone! Thank you all for the very warm welcome and all your lovely messages. Naheed I'm so glad you remember me. I had a wonderful time moderating the BBC Learning English discussion group and the message boards. One of my fondest BBC memories is reading everybody's messages over the millennium as 1999 turned into 2000. It was wonderful to think of all you BBC radio listeners, learners and web users celebrating around the world, and together virtually on the web!

    I'm enjoying reading all your messages about fireworks. What is it about fireworks that makes us feel like children again? All the 'oohs' and 'ahs' (the noises we make when we are delighted) as the night sky is lit up with beautiful sparkly colours. My favourite display on November 5th is on the Thames in a little park near Putney (where the famous Oxford vs Cambridge University boat race finishes). It's always cold and damp, but everyone gets wrapped up in warm clothes and brings hot soup in flasks, or jacket potatoes (potatoes roast in their skins). You can see all the fireworks reflected in the River Thames and it's a lovely sight.

    Svetlana - I am so impressed that the weather can be controlled so that rain won't spoil the fireworks in Red Square! I imagine that is a wonderful sight to see a display in such a beautiful location.

    Ana Paula you ask me to tell you a bit more about myself. I was born in London many moons ago (that's a nice phrase to say a long time ago), studied Russian at University, then taught English for two years in Japan. After that I joined the BBC and worked for the Central Asian Section, the Russian Section and a news programme called East Asia Today. Since joining BBC Learning English I have worked on lots and lots of different programmes and websites. If you listen to the BBC in the Middle East you may have heard me on BBC Xtra or BBCe! I also worked on co-productions in China and Vietnam.

    The last three years have been very exciting for me and my family. I went to live in Boston in the USA, had a baby who is now two and a bit (a bit means a couple of months in this example) and then spent the last year and a half living in Brooklyn New York. I came back to Britain this summer with an almost convincing Brooklyn accent.

    I would like to hear more from you. I know you are a very active and caring community. Who will describe all the characters for me here? Who is the Father of the group? Who is the Mother? Who is the most welcoming person? Who writes the most? Who gets grumpy? Who writes the most eccentric posts? Who likes to be the peace-maker? I am looking forward to finding all of these things out about you!

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Alice,
    It was nice to read your blog describing about the significance of fireworks in your country. Well, for me, it is very enjoyable experience to watch fireworks exploding in the sky on the day of festival of lights, Diwali, here in Inida. And Alice, i most humbly request you that when you present your blog, try to write using conditional sentences, or to tell something imaginary in respect of past, present and future times/tenses. Describing a factual thing is somewhat easier, but I really get confused when it comes to describing somthing imaginary. And i wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali. May God give you happiness, peace and prosperity!

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Alice,

    Nice to meet you!
    I'm glad to read about this theme as I love the firework :). It was interesting to come to know the story of Bonfire Night in England.

    In Hungary there's a big firework on August 20th in every year throughout the country but the largest one's in our capital town Budapest. We celebrate first of all the enthronement of our first king "Isvan Király" (=King Stephen) and secondly the feast of new bread. There's a big firework show in the citycenter of Budapest by Danube and a whale of people arrive to watch it. Besides the marvellous firework the scene's also beautiful mainly in that light.

    See you soon,
    Ditta, Hungary

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Alice.

    I'm Daniel from Portugal, and this is my first post in here. :p

    In Portugal the biggest fireworks happen in the New Year Celebration in Madeira, Madeira have one of the most fantastic firework spectacle in the entire world. *.*

  • Comment number 16.

    Hello Alice,
    first time that I wrote hier, thank you for your service!!
    I Live in Turin - Italy, hier we have fireworks obvioulsy in the first night of the year, but also on June, 24th of the year, city patron (san Johann)
    But we had memorable fireworks in Turin some years ago, in 2006, during the Winter Olimpic Games!! I know in London they're organising next games, and I wish them all the best!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Alice
    I am Mo. I am from Thailand. I am learning English language. In Thailand, There is an upcoming festival called Loy Kratong day on 21st November. In this occation , we have firework and people go outside to celebrate by letting banana leave vessel in the river. Thai believe that letting the vessel in the river is an expressing an apology to the river for polluting made by people all over the year.

    Bye bye

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello Alice.
    I'm new there, and it's nice to meet you.
    I don't really like fireworks, and don't have any special memories about them. In Russia, we have fireworks quite a few times in the year. But we don't have a Bonfire tradition. Alice, can you tell more about it?
    Best regards

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Alice,
    Funny thing, this bonfire night. I remember when I first learned about it at school, I was utterly confused about who people actually sympathise with - the King, against whom the plot was intended, or Guy Fawkes, whose name, so it seems, is so fondly remembered. And the very fact that the occasion is celebrated with displays of fireworks, using the same ingredients with which Guy Fawkes wanted to carry out his plot, again seems to indicate that maybe people would have quite liked to see parliament, or rather, the government of the time go up in flames.
    Have I successfully shared my confusion? Or have I spread confusion instead?

    All the best,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Alice
    Nice to meet you here as the teacher blogger!
    Your blog reminded me a joyful Iranian tradition called:
    " Charshanbeh Souri " ( Red Wednesday ).
    Charshanbeh souri, the fire festival of the Iranian people in which fireworks are permanenced is celebrated on the eve before the last Wednesday of the Iranian year.
    The celebration begins in the evening. People gather together in their districts, making fire on the streets or inside the gardens.
    People, mostly the youngers and children even the adults jump over the fire rejoicing, singing :
    " my sickly yellow paleness is yours, your fiery redness is mine " while jumping! This means that you want the fire to take your paleness and sickness, and give you redness warmth and energy!
    During the celebration the participants even people who passing by, are entertained by a hot, delicious tradition soup.Meanwhile,a kind of special mixed nuts are served too.
    In this special night, people really feel happy and the fireworks are continued until about midnight!

    Karoun from Iran-Tehran

  • Comment number 21.

    Hello Alice.

    Nice to meet you.
    This is the first time that I wrote here.
    I live in a city called Giaveno in province of Torino in Piedmont Region in North West of Italy.
    The tradition would like a bonfire party at St. James.
    There were a lot of bonfire on top of the mountains around my city.
    There was one bonfire for each small village.
    On St. James' night the mountains were bright.
    Best Regards

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Alice,

    This is my first in this blog. I was so impressed by your efforts to teach English and all the posters' passion to learn English. I belive this will be a good English learning ground. So what I'm waiting? catch up

    In China, there are lots of festivals and celebrations. Fireworks are generally set up on the two biggest ones---Chinese New Year and Mid-autumn festival which is famous for its mooncake. Mid-autumn festival is a little like western Thanksgiving Day,on which families sit together, have a feast, of course with mooncake and enjoy full and bright moon on the sky. I love fireworks,the big brightly beutiful flowers with variable patterns on the sky. It always make people so cheerful and excited.

    best wishes


  • Comment number 23.

    ...Remember, remember the 5th of November...
    The story of this evens is described in Enterprice textbook - Intermediate level.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi there, shanshan,

    That's very interesting to read your comment! I had known that the Chinese New Year is a really big thing, but I hadn't heard about your mid-autumn festival before. And I'd never heard about your mooncake! What sort of cake is it? Have you got a recipe to share with us?
    Thanks for answering,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 25.

    Though Hong Kong is a very small city, there are two major firework events within a year too. The first one should definitely be the celebration of Chinese New Year, while the other is the celebration of National Day of China.

    Usually I would watch the firework with my family in front of the television so that we would not be blocked by the others. :D

    However, the most impressive firework that I have ever watched should be the one took place in my parents' hometown 10 years ago. When I was little, I often celebrated the Chinese New Year with my grandparents and relatives in a small town located in southern China.

    Unlike Hong Kong, there are not much skyscrapers in that town, so we can watch the firework clearly at balcony. Though the scale of firework event was not very huge to those in Hong Kong, it was still an unforgettable night for me. Nothing is better than watching the firework with all my family members. ^^

    P.S. It is also interesting to get to know many different festivals with firework celebration around the world!! :D

    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Alice.

    The most famous firework celebration in Taiwan is on the New Yeas'day.The government set off fireworks on the highest building(In Taiwan).Amazing gorgeous,but streets are very crowded with people,traffic jam is everywhere.

    We also set off fireworks on our national day,10/10.I think Asia people love fireworks a lot. That's why we have so many firework celebrations. :)

    Best regards,


  • Comment number 27.

    Hello Alice ,

    my name is Leona and I live in the Czech Republic in the second greatest city - Brno. Your text is very nice and interesting. In my country we have fireworks, too. Our fireworks is in the summer. This year it was from 21.5. to 6.6. 2010. In the Brno the fireworks are very very nice and interesting. This year It was at the Brno dam, Shopping and entertainment center Olympia and the final was at the Denis plantation. This year the firework lasted two minutes and it was with music. The music was part of "The Olympic Spirit" by John Williams. The music was broadcast at the radio KISS HADY 88,3 FM. This year I was at the fireworks and it was very good as well as last year. I was at the Brno fireworks with my friends, because we it wanted to watching them. If you want to look our fireworks, you will must go to the Czech Republic to the Brno in the summer. I look forward to more fireworks

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Alice,

    In my country the Czech republic we haven't Bonfire. But every year we have national competition in make firework. This is the biggest firework which we have. It is in summer so we have a nice weather. You can see a lot of beautiful firework with songs. Sometimes there are playing classic music, or popular music. We have four places for fireworks. In one of this places is lake so you can take your blanket, lie and watch and enjoy fireworks. On this action are various stalls selling food, drink, merry-go-rounds and a lot of people, parents with their little children, teenagers, adults, foreigners. Sometimes happen that you have to stand the queue or that you spill drink to somebody and vice versa. If it is after rain it is very bad because everywhere is mud. These fireworks are very good because you can meet people which you didn't see long time.
    On the New Year we have second firework which we can watch in TV. It takes place in capital city or we can have our fireworks at our gardens.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Alice,

    Are you Alice from "6 minute english" ?

    In France we have fireworks for the 14th of July. In big cities like Paris, Lyon, Marseille but also in small villages.
    It's the birthday of a well-known events of the french Revolution in 1789 : the storming of the Bastille.

    In the East Of France in the last days of june (St Jean), we have bonfires.
    Teenagers, young adults and children come there to enjoy the feast, music, food and drink.
    Sometimes a group of dancers can make the show.
    the feast lasts until the bonfire is off.

    So Bonfires and fireworks are for me synonymous of summer.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Alice ..I'm new here ...I'm from Brazil.
    in Brazil the most important day is Christmas and New Year to let off fireworks....
    I hope to learn from the blog, because I still know very little ...thanks ..
    best wishes ..

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Alice. Nice to see you again. It's my second comment. I am from Mongolia. Now I live in London with my family /with my husband, son and sister/. We saw a lot of fire on the sky. This bonfire day was my son's three-year birthday. He was very happy. Because he was thinking this lots of fireworks for his birthday. It was a wonderful day for him. We were very excited. In my country we usually do fireworks in New Year's day.

    I like your blog. Thank you.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Alice
    I'm a new member from Thailand. it's nice to hear from you about your festival of the fireworks. We have alot of festival here, and one of the most popular festival is Loy krathong. We celebrated on the full moon in November. The word loy means to float, and a krathong is a banana leaf cup. People place a candle and incense sticks in their krathongs and then float them on a local river. We also refers to flying away misfortune and bad things in the past. And we ask for forgiveness in polluting the waterways and also for good luck in the coming months. There are many activities other than floating Krathong, are conducted in this festival, such as, contests of Krathong-making and Noppamas beauty pageants, local games and performances and fireworks.

    I'd like you guy to visit and enjoy this beatiful festival in Thailand. Thank you

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear Alice,

    To begin with, let's me introduce myself...hm i am Sarorn, a new comma from Cambodia. It is quite common that every country has different special occasions and joyful activity happening annually. Not completely different from others, in my country there are the number of festivals occurring every year, but the two most biggest occasions that we usually celebrate with the present of fireworks are Water Festival and Independence Day.

    In Water festival, we normally celebrate it during November and it lasts three days every year. it is quite different from other occasions since it takes place in the capital city of Phnom Penh. therefore, during that day there are the number of Cambodian citizens traveling from other provinces to city. that's really fantastic, joyful, crowded and fascinating. during the day time, people enjoy watching boat races represented our powerful army in the past and the night period they love looking to the sky to exploding of fireworks.

    The other big occasion celebrating in my country is Independence Day. It is the victorious day that we were free form colonization. Therefore, during the night time there are very very enormous fireworks.....

    Finally, i really appreciate this blog as i am given a chance to share....thanks to blog designers!


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