The fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I know of no reason,
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Thanks. It’s an old poem from the late 19th Century, about Guy Fawkes Night.
Guy Fawkes Night?
Yes. It’s a special day in the UK. It’s when we celebrate the time when a man called Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the government and the King with a lot of gunpowder.
Really? Why would you celebrate something like that?
Because he failed spectacularly. Guy and his friends were caught before he could blow them up. They were convicted of high treason, and sentenced to death.
Oh. So, how do you celebrate Guy Fawkes Night?
Well, Guy Fawkes used a lot of gunpowder, so we traditionally celebrate with fireworks. Some families have their own fireworks in their garden, but lots of towns have big public fireworks displays in parks.
Fireworks? In November? Isn’t it really cold?
Yes! That’s why we also make a big bonfire. Sometimes, we make a big doll called a ‘guy’ and throw that on the fire too. Sometimes the guy is made to look like a famous person. David Cameron, Osama Bin Laden, Jeremy Clarkson and Donald Trump have all been guys on bonfires in the UK. There are traditional Bonfire Night foods too, like treacle toffee, and potatoes baked in the bonfire. In Lancashire, people also eat black peas in malt vinegar.
I know – it sounds pretty strange! But it’s actually really fun! And the food is okay, too! If you’re ever in the UK on 5 November, why not try going to a Guy Fawkes Night event?
gunpowder (n) – a black powder used in fireworks and bombs.
treason (n) – a crime against your country (eg. killing the King)
blow up (v) – destroy something with an explosion
failed spectacularly (v+adv) – failed very badly