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The Fifth of November
My aunt, who lived in England once told me this rhyme:
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I don't see a reason why gunpowder and treason
Should ever be forgot.
My dad, who grew up in England told me about bonfires and baked potatoes, fireworks and effigies.
But what really is it all about? Read on to find out.
November the fifth marks the annual remembrance of the 'Powder Treason' in England. It is the celebration of the discovery of the plan to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Parliament buildings.
Treason means that there was a plot to overthrow the government either by harming or killing it's leader.
Children go chumping (collecting wood, old furniture and other burnable items) in late October ready for the bonfires organized in their local neighborhoods. People share homemade toffee, gingerbread men, baked potatoes blackened in the fire and an array of exploding fireworks. Then they toss a scarecrow figure, symbolizing Guy Fawkes, one of the assassins, into the fire. The Gunpowder Plot is the only event in Britain's history that is given annual remembrance.
Experience the celebration
The Plot came about from the disappointments of the Catholic people. It was a drastic plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament and all the Lords inside, including King James I. It was a violent attempt by eleven men to change the English government. Catholics, who were previously not tolerated in 17th century England were led to believe gentler times would come when James became King. James, however, made many promises in order to gain succession of the throne. Instead, when James became King, the Catholics received further torment and anti-Catholic laws making it illegal to practice their faith.
Guy Fawkes was a soldier who was a specialist in tunneling and gunpowder. He was called in by the plotters to tunnel into the under chambers of the House of Lords and lay down two tons of gunpowder. The powder was then to be set to explode on the fifth of November 1605, that day the King would open the Parliament session.
The Terrible Blow
While the powder was set and waiting for the fifth of November, one of the Lords received an anonymous letter which was then relayed to the King. The letter warned of a "terrible blow" leading King James to believe of a threat of gunpowder. The King ordered that the under rooms of the Parliament be searched and the gunpowder and Guy Fawkes were discovered. Even to this day Royal bodyguards search the vaults of the Houses of Parliament before the opening of session.
Soon, all the conspirators were captured and the plan was dissolved. King James was saved from assassination and he declared the fifth of November a day of thanksgiving. Even though Guy Fawkes had not been part of the original plot, his effort against King James cost him his life and eternal remembrance of his deed on Plot night.