Bonfire Night: What is the story behind it?

  • 1 November 2017
Bonfire Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption On 5 November, people all over the UK will have bonfire parties

This weekend, people all over the UK will be lighting bonfires and enjoying fireworks. This is to celebrate Bonfire Night.

While it might just seem like a great opportunity to have some fun with friends and family, there is actually a historical reason why we do this.

So where did it all come from?

What is Bonfire Night?

On 5 November, people across the UK celebrate Bonfire Night with fireworks, bonfires, sparklers and toffee apples.

Some might have small fireworks parties in their back gardens, while towns and villages may put on organised displays in public parks.

Image caption Many people enjoy playing with sparklers on Bonfire Night. Remember, if you're doing this, always ask an adult and get them to supervise you!

The reason we do it is because it's the anniversary of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

This was called the Gunpowder Plot.

When we light bonfires to remember this event, traditionally there will be a dummy man on the top of them. He is called the 'Guy' and is a kind of doll that represents a man who was part of the plot, called Guy Fawkes.

What was the Gunpowder Plot?

Guy (Guido) Fawkes was part of the Gunpowder plot in 1605. He wanted to blow up King James I and his government.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People also celebrate Bonfire Night with fireworks, as they use explosives similar to what Guy Fawkes hid under the Houses of Parliament

This was because of religion. England was a Protestant country and the plotters were Catholic. They wanted England to be Catholic again, which they thought they could do if they killed King James I and his ministers.

So, Fawkes and his group put 36 barrels of gunpowder in cellars underneath the Houses of Parliament in London, ready to set off a massive explosion.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An engraving showing Guy Fawkes inspecting his barrels of gunpowder

However, one member of Fawkes' group sent a letter to his friend who worked in Parliament, warning him to stay away on 5 November. The King's supporters got hold of the letter and the plot was rumbled!

Guards broke into the cellars where the gunpowder plotters were waiting. They were arrested and executed.

To find out some more firework facts before Bonfire Night, click here!

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