Bonfire, Guy Fawkes, or That Dude in the Creepy Mask from V for Vendetta Night

For the benefit for folks in my parts, November 5, 1605 is a national holiday in the U.K. celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, the conspiracy to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Parliament building. Even though Guy Fawkes was the one discovered guarding the explosives, the mastermind behind the whole plot was one Robert Catesby. It’s a shame he never got the festival named after him, since it was his idea.

He was robbed. "Robert catesby npg" by probably by Adam, after Unknown engraver - National Portrait Gallery: NPG d21072While Commons policy accepts the use of this media, one or more third parties have made copyright claims against Wikimedia Commons in relation to the work from which this is sourced or a purely mechanical reproduction thereof. This may be due to recognition of the "sweat of the brow" doctrine, allowing works to be eligible for protection through skill and labour, and not purely by originality as is the case in the United States (where this website is hosted). These claims may or may not be valid in all jurisdictions.As such, use of this image in the jurisdiction of the claimant or other countries may be regarded as copyright infringement. Please see Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag for more information.See User:Dcoetzee/NPG legal threat for more information.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.English | Español | Français | Magyar | Italiano | Македонски | Türkmençe | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
He was robbed. “Robert catesby npg” by probably by Adam, after Unknown engraver – National Portrait Gallery: NPG d21072While Commons policy accepts the use of this media, one or more third parties have made copyright claims against Wikimedia Commons in relation to the work from which this is sourced or a purely mechanical reproduction thereof. This may be due to recognition of the “sweat of the brow” doctrine, allowing works to be eligible for protection through skill and labour, and not purely by originality as is the case in the United States (where this website is hosted). These claims may or may not be valid in all jurisdictions.As such, use of this image in the jurisdiction of the claimant or other countries may be regarded as copyright infringement. Please see Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag for more information.See User:Dcoetzee/NPG legal threat for more information.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.English | Español | Français | Magyar | Italiano | Македонски | Türkmençe | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

For the most part, when I was living there 20 years ago, it was always an innocuous holiday full of fireworks and fun, although there was a question about the effigies. It is traditional to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the town’s bonfire. Understood. Cool. Even before I came over, sometimes towns would throw in a likeness of someone who is persona non grata like the late Margaret Thatcher. However, what made me squicky, were the pope effigies in a few isolated areas. Now, you crossed the line into religion. I understood that the whole point of the celebration was the thwarting of a Catholic conspiracy against the Protestant king, but I grew up Catholic.  How was this OK?  Were these people saying people like me were not wanted?

Of course, now, I realize my fears were unfounded.  The U.K. is a much more religiously tolerant place than the actions of Bonfire Night would make out to be.  The pope effigies are gone, and there is some debate about whether the effigies are appropriate for the modern age.  That is not for me to say, since I am on this side of the Pond.

While the Britons are deciding on what they want, this year, in Lewes, the targets are David Cameron with his friend, the pig’s head, and Sepp Blatter, the currently suspended and disgraced FIFA president.  That should make for quite a blaze.

The smell of bacon should mix well with the consequences of gunpowder, treason, and plot.

14 thoughts on “Bonfire, Guy Fawkes, or That Dude in the Creepy Mask from V for Vendetta Night

  1. Guy Fawkes seems just an excuse to shoot off fireworks to me these days–I mean, the guy never set off the bomb! I thought the copyright notice on the photo more interesting. You could have avoided that by simply pasting a fake beard on the Boffin and putting him in a funny hat.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have always been fond of Guy Fawkes festivals because it is my birthday and I liked to think, when I was wee, that all the bonfires and fireworks were for me. I can happily say that I have never attended a bonfire or festival where effigies were burned but I am aware that some communities do so. It is not my taste and honestly I find it rather offensive when the figures burned are living people or where there is racism or religious intolerance involved. It is part of the tension between tradition and modern sensibilities. I think those communities should find a way to bridge the two. I do miss fireworks on my birthday though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Happy Birthday, Laura!

      I always thought that people with July 4th birthdays here or November 5th birthdays in the UK lucked out. Fireworks on your special day. That’s awesome.

      You make a very good point. Say, instead of Sepp Blatter, they made a football with the FIFA logo on it and threw it into the fire?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish it was an actual holiday where we got the day off work too, but alas, no. I’m not keen on the burning of effigies myself, I don’t think it sends a good message to the kids! It seems like inciting hatred to me, and it makes me think of the old days of burning witches. But anyway, aside from that, I do love a good fireworks night event – big bonfire, hot mugs of tomato soup, hot dogs, toffee apples, oh and a lovely fireworks display! I haven’t been to a fireworks display where effigies are burned thank goodness. When I was living in the states, the 4th July celebrations never felt quite right, having fireworks when it was summer and hot! Part of fireworks is watching them bundled up in warm clothes for me. I guess it’s just what we grow up being used to isn’t it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A couple years ago I was living in Brighton, UK so got a chance to go to the Lewes bonfire night and it was so crazy/busy! Mostly seems like a lot of fun and a reason to have fires and protest other things in society these days and not so religious, I really had fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you came over! Welcome!

      It is down to what the effigies represent to you. Some think the effigies go to far like a couple of other posters on here have stated. Meanwhile, you think what they represent is meant to stay in the ideological realm and does not cross over into anything ominous. That is why there is debate over there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The mix of tolerance and prejudice in burning an effigy of the pope strikes me as particularly British. When I’ve tackled people about racist language/images/whatevers, they tend to say something along the lines of, “Oh, but I don’t mean it that way,” as if that wiped the word, the image, the whatever, clean of its history in the culture and they could go on saying/showing/whatevering it with a clear conscience. It’s a bizarre argument (and way of thinking) and I doubt I’ll ever really understand it.

    Liked by 1 person

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