Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Remember remember the Fifth of November

I don't know how the rest of that little ditty goes, but it's the rhyme traditionally sung on this day. I haven't heard any Englishmen say it, but they certainly haven't left out the best part of this British holiday: fireworks.

In 1605, Guy Fawkes and other conspirators plotted to smuggle gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament and blow them up in an act of proto-terrorism. They were caught and executed, but continue to live on through the annual celebration on 5 November, called Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night (seems a little like calling 11 September "Osama bin Laden Day" or "Shock-and-Awe Night" to me).

The important thing, as in every holiday that incorporates them, is the fireworks. For almost three weeks now, I've heard occasional pops, booms and crackles in my neighborhood at night. The most confusing was about a week ago when, looking out my kitchen window, I saw two children chasing each other around the street, shooting fireworks out what looked like long paper-towel rolls at each other—most of them veering off towards apartment buildings or parked cars, setting off wailing car alarms.

Sunday I was able to watch Tower Hamlets' amazing fireworks display in Victoria Park from my bedroom window, and now I can hear—and sometimes see—people setting off fireworks all around in what feels like a lower-level version of Valencia's Las Fallas, which i attended in 2006.

But I'm a little distracted by yesterday's events back across the pond. "Remember remember the Fourth of November..." as one newspaper here put it.

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Wow, those Americans had to upstage Guy Fawkes Day!

LOL at your Osama-bin-Laden Day suggestion.

The Brits do love their fireworks.
Last year I was awed at the idea of fireworks in winter. It's quite fun.