Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember, Remember...

Remember remember the 5th of November:
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I see of no reason the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

As was somewhat immortalized by the 2006 film V for Vendetta for those of us who weren't otherwise aware, 5 November is commemorated in England as Guy Fawkes' Night.

On 5 November 1605, a plot was hatched by a group of English Catholics to blow up Parliament and thereby assassinate King James I.  Guy Fawkes was caught guarding the store of gunpowder intended for this treason, and was arrested and executed.  Since then, this date has annually been celebrated with bonfires and fireworks in thanksgiving of the plot's failure.

Interestingly, the idea of Guy Fawkes has, in recent months, been appropriated by the Occupy movement, which seems to identify with his supposed anti-establishement ideals.  (In fact, the Gunpowder Plot was not even close to anarchist; the aim was to replace the Protestant king with a Catholic king.)  The Guy Fawkes mask, made famous in V for Vendetta, has been seen at protests from Oakland to Hong Kong, and CNN reports that it "has become the talisman of a new generation of activists as an unprecedented wave of disgust and anger with establishment figures has swept the world."

 a protester at #OLSX on 3 November 2011 via CNN

Regardless of why you remember Guy Fawkes, though, opportunities abound to celebrate the fifth of November in style in London.  Time Out has a list of firework displays all over town - I'll be checking them out at Battersea Park.  I don't know if anyone actually still burns effigies, but Jon assures me that there are plenty of bonfires out in the countryside, and I'm sure that pubs up and down the country will be packed.  (Oh, good, just what we want: fire and alcohol, the best combination.)

How will you be spending this autumnal weekend, dear readers?  Have a good one, whatever your plans may be!

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