Bonfire Night has a very long tradition involving plots and treason.Today it is celebrated with elaborate fireworks and bonfires across the country.
Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
On 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. Guy Fawkes disagreed with the then king of England, King James I and plotted with a group of men to fill a cellar under the Houses of Parliament with gunpowder to blow it up. This was later to become known as the Gunpowder Plot. The plan was foiled and Guy Fawkes was captured and sent to the Tower of London. He was later executed.
Since that day the 5th November had been remembered as Guy Fawkes Night. Effigies (dummies representing people) of Guy Fawkes were made with shirts and trousers stuffed with hay or paper. A mask was sometimes used for its face. Children would take their guy out on the streets and ask for a 'penny for the guy' to pay for fireworks. At night the guys were placed on the top of bonfires.
Nowadays the 5th November is known as Bonfire Night. On this night throughout the country there are many firework displays. Fireworks of many colours and shapes light up the night sky.
Pyrotechnics is the science used in creating fireworks. The science dates back thousands of years to ancient China. Fireworks are made using gunpowder, the same powder Guy Fawkes tried to use four hundred years ago to blow up Parliament.
There are many types of fireworks. Rockets are fireworks that shoot up into the sky and explode into colourful shapes. Catherine Wheels are fireworks that spin around like a wheel, and are very bright and noisy. The name comes from a form of punishment that was used against St Catherine in the Middle Ages. Sparklers are metal sticks which can be held at one end. When lit it sparkles and hisses.
Fireworks are beautiful and can be a lot of fun. But they must be handled with care, as they can be dangerous. Children must always be accompanied by an adult around fireworks, and the Fireworks Code must be followed at all times.
How long has Bonfire Night been celebrated?
Bonfire Night is over 400 years old. It dates back to 1605 when Guy Fawkes and a group of other men tried to blow up Parliament.
Was Guy Fawkes the leader of the Gunpowder Plot?
No. The leader of the Gunpowder Plot was a man called Robert Catesby. He was a Catholic who was fiercely opposed to the king and the Protestant aristocracy of the time.
When were fireworks invented and what were they used for?
The earliest written records of fireworks date back to China in the 12th Century (AD 1100s). They were used to scare off evil spirits with the loud sounds that they made.