06 November 2009

Guy Fawkes

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Tonight we celebrated Guy Fawkes Night, a British tradition commemorating the 1605 "gunpowder plot." It was a day late, but it was the first opportunity we had. Guy Fawkes was a member of a Catholic conspiracy to destroy Parliament. The conspirators packed a cellar beneath Parliament with gunpowder and planned to detonate it with most of the Protestant nobility and King James I inside. The plot was foiled and the the conspirators were executed. Not just executed, though, they were "hanged, drawn, and quartered," which means that they were hanged until nearly dead, cut loose, dragged through the city by a horse, disemboweled, cut into four pieces, and then sent to the four corners of the Kingdom as a warning against treason. (!).

The Execution

The anniversary of the plot is commemorated on 5 November each year and is typically celebrated with a bonfire and the lighting of fireworks. In addition, Guy Fawkes is usually burnt in effigy - a tradition that began that very night in 1605 and has continued for more than 400 years. The brutality of his actual execution seems to be forgotten in the modern celebration.

We joined our British staffers at coconut point in East Bay for a bonfire. We had no fireworks, but we did construct a little "Guy" from sticks and a coconut.

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