Saturday, 31 October 2009

World Blog Surf Day: Remember, remember…

…the fifth of November!

If you’ve clicked over from my dear blogging friend Just A Plane Ride Away welcome and welcome to this edition of World Blog Surf Day!  World Blog Surf Day is a round-the-world blogging trip where expats talk about a certain aspect of their life in their new country.  It is a fabulous event because not only do you get to visit different countries, you also get the benefit of the different cultural backgrounds that we bring to our new countries.  The idea is that I will link to the next blogger at the bottom of my post and you can click through to 41 bloggers as you surf around the world!!!

The theme for this edition of WBSD is:

Holidays & Celebrations--What is your favourite new holiday and how is it celebrated?

Well, America has Halloween and South Africa has Christmas (albeit a hot and sunny one) so I would say that my favourite celebration that is unique to England is Bonfire Night.  Actually… who am I kidding?  Bonfire Night has always been my favourite since I was a little girl.

Lewes Bonfire Night 2007 - Bonfire Onlooker
Lewes Bonfire Night 2007 - Bonfire Onlooker, originally uploaded by Dominic's Pics

The Legend of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot

Queen Elizabeth I persecuted Catholics and many had hoped that her successor James I would be more tolerant of Catholics as his mother was one.  This was not the case however and in 1605, 13 young men decided to take the matter into their own hands.

They came up with the brilliant plan (she says sarcastically) to blow up the Houses of Parliament, thereby killing the King and the Protestant nobility who were bringing misery to the Catholic people.

Robert Catesby led the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes was put in charge of the execution.  They obtained 36 barrels of gunpowder and stored them in a cellar under the House of Lords.  The problem was that many innocent people would get harmed in the explosion as Catholics and Catholic sympathisers would also be at the Houses of Parliament.

Of the 13 conspirators, several fled to Dunchurch but one of them sent an anonymous note to Lord Monteagle warning him of the impending attack.  The note was reported and Guy Fawkes was arrested in the cellar before carrying out the attack.

The Tradition of Bonfire Night

On hearing of the deliverance of their King, Londoners immediately lit fires in thanksgiving and the tradition of Bonfire Night began that year.  Modern day celebrations include the burning of a “Guy” on a huge bonfire and impressive fireworks displays.

[Image Source]

My favourite has to be the Catherine Wheel.  This is two big sparklers that are put on a wheel that is then spun.  My only complaint about the Catherine Wheel?  It is over too quickly.

Bonfire night
Bonfire Night, originally uploaded by mattwillshawphotography

My… how we grow up.  As a pet owner, I hate fireworks and find myself staying in on New Years Eve to look after my poor, traumatised dogs. (Don’t feel too sorry for me – I did enough partying in my twenties to last me for the next couple of New Years!) 

You can’t deny it though, there are few things as exhilarating as a good fireworks display!!!  I’ve seen two displays that I will never forget – one over Westminster on VJ Day in 1995 and one over Melbourne on 31 December 1999.  My favourite displays, however, are those using the smaller (and more dangerous) fireworks that whistle as they go up and pop in the sky.  Feeling the heat on my cheeks from the bonfire and the electricity in the atmosphere around me, Bonfire Night has got to be my favourite celebration of all!

Lewes Bonfire Night
Lewes Bonfire Night, originally uploaded by sussexmike

Continue along on your World Blog Surf Day trip to Annuca at Rantings from Afar.  Annuca is another blogging friend of mine and we met during the first WBSD.  I just know that you’ll love her post!



  1. I love fireworks, too, but my sister has the same problem you do--she has to get her dog tranquilizers before the 4th of July! Love the fireworks photos!

  2. Thank goodness that my dog is quite oblivious to the fireworks. I enjoy them tremendously twice a year - on New Years Eve and Fourth of July!
    Happy surfing, Emm :)

  3. Emm I can almost taste my Mum's bonfire toffee after reading your post. BTW some of our former "colonies" do actually celebrate bonfire night although I fancy they probably do so for different reasons now (glad to be shut of the Brits).

  4. Guy Fawkes and co. were a very misguided bunch I must say. And talk about the forerunners of terrorism! As a catholic myself, I couldn't go with that stuff at all. But there's no doubt that there was fierce persecution of catholics in that time in Britain and Ireland also. Catholics in general have not remembered the efforts of Fawkes, I think that they were also upset about it. But I honestly think that the tradition of bonfires at this time originated in the pre-Christian past when it was believed that the spirits of dead roamed around in disguise and mingled with the people. You could be talkng to a ghost and you wouldn't even know it. I remember reading that in Celtic countries bonfires were lit to scare away the spirits. Here in India, we have just celebrated the Diwali festival and fireworks are a major feature of that too. There's another human rights issue here - the magnificent fireworks we enjoy, are reportedly made in sweatshops by child labourers. As you go around the world, you encounter so many different experiences and traditions, isn't it true?

    Anyway Emm, enjoy bonfire night! Fireworks and all! I'll do my bit for WBSD!

  5. Great post, Emm! The other night, I found myself missing the little firework sounds that start up weeks before the big day.

  6. Sounds a bit scary. I love the story of Guy Fawkes, although I'm not sure I could handle the fireworks. I usually hide under the bed when they go off here. :-)

  7. Great post, Emm. Personally I don't like fireworks! I prefer to stay indoors!!

    Have a great bonfire night this year :-)

  8. Hi Emm, I did not know this story so I very much appreciated your post. Thanks for being part of WBSD!

  9. Yeah. Fireworks. Love that shit! Kapow!

  10. Emm, this is such an awesome post! And I looove fireworks! ;) Happy Halloween, dear!

  11. If there is one celebration that I miss from the UK it is bonfire night. A hot fire on a cold night, fireworks and tasty treats MMMM!


  12. I grew up in York, which is where Guy Fawkes was from. St Peters private school for boys in York doesn't celebrate this holiday, because Guy Fawkes was a former student!

  13. I'd been watching the BBC and trying to figure out why they were having all the firework safety commercials NOW instead of at the end of December when I figured people would be doing them. It makes a lot more sense now!

  14. I immediately thought of V for Vendetta :)

    Nice to see you via WBSD!!

  15. Your blog is lovely. Great post for the World Blog Surf Day! ;)


  16. I always found guy Fawkes day and throwing an effigy (a guy) on a bonfire to be so incredibly medi-evil bizarre that i never really got into it. My fave holiday in the US that i never had growing up is not halloween but Thanksgiving which strikes me very much the opposite of Ween in that it focuses on all teh good and pleasant things to be thankful for. I love it. Like Xmas without the pressure of gift giving, getting, etc. Just friends and families gathering in love...ideally!

  17. I saw the fireworks and immediately got nervous. I have horrible luck with fireworks and the Fourth of July. I got burned one year and then my friend got burned the year before that.

  18. There is something really special about bonfires - I love them! Thank you for this lovely post, Emm.

    Good thing that my cat doesn't mind fireworks one bit, because they're definitely a staple of Canadian celebrations, much more so than any other country I've lived in!


  19. Squee! Bonfire night... few more days :)

  20. Lol, I had problems understanding the idea of Guy Fawkes night when I first moved to the UK, but then I decided to take it as what it was in our village: A school event with bonfire, firework, home made hamburgers or chili con carne and, exceedingly weak, mulled wine ;-) I used to have dogs and used to spent sitting with them during the fireworks but the cat that we have now is not bothered at all by the noise ;-) SY

    PS I had to re-post my own contribution to WBSD and couldn't take the comments with me, my apologies to everybody that left a comment and wonders now why it has disappeared, SY

  21. Emm I like the photos and especially the one of Guy Fawkes burning away. Not my favourite time of the year but our springer spaniel (now deceased) used to absolutely love it. A strange but lovely mutt.

  22. Oh my! Has it really been three weeks since I posted this? I'm terribly, terribly behind on all of my comments and I blame that on my job! Work has been so busy that I've had to (shock! horror!) work and I haven't been surfing blogs and commenting as I should.

    Thanks to everyone who commented and all of those who visited from WBSD. As you've probably noticed from late comments on your blogs, I'm still slowly working my way through the WBSD posts!


© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig