In November 1605, Guy Fawkes and group of conspirators made an attempt to blow up the British houses of parliament along with its ruling monarch, King James 1st. By filling a cellar directly underneath Parliament buildings with 36 barrels of gunpowder, iron bars and firewood, Guy Fawkes audacious plot would have spelt certain death to King James 1st had it not been uncovered in advance.
Theory has it that Roman Catholics were being persecuted under the rule of King James 1st and if he was disposed of it would have acted as a catalyst causing an uprising amongst the Catholic faith to overthrow the ruling monarchy.
Guy Fawkes Night is still celebrated in Britain, Newfoundland (Canada) and New Zealand on November 5th. The event is accompanied by firework displays, the lighting of bonfires and the ceremonial effigy-burning of Guy Fawkes.
The strange thing about it is that there are few today who are fully aware of the significance the event. When I was a child we would always mount a guy atop of the bonfire and watch with intent glee as the fire took hold and torched. The lighting of loud fireworks was a further symbol of the cache of explosives that were secreted under the British houses of parliament all those years ago. In my youth it was perfectly legal to purchase fireworks which would explode with a bang... and the things we would get up to were the stuff of childhood legend!
Today in an attempt by the state that they know best it is no longer possible to purchase exploding fireworks or rockets. Most people consider the event less a reminder of Guy Fawkes but as an important event to celebrate the coming summer outdoor living and barbeque season.
Guy Fawkes has ceased to act as reminder of an attempt to blow up the British houses of parliament and has instead become a festival of fireworks and fire.