Monday, November 7, 2022

Explain it to me like I'm in kindergarten.

"Remember, remember the 5th of November, 

Gunpowder, treason and plot

We see no reason 

Why gunpowder treason 

Should ever be forgot.  

Explain Guy Fawkes day to me, please. My poor daughter tried. 

I understand that he was part of a group who tried to blow up parliament and assassinate King James. I understand that he was not successful. He was hanged, and then drawn and quartered. His pieces and parts were then tossed into the Thames, the resting place of many convicted of high treason. 

So, why then is Guy Fawkes immortalized? He wasn't even the leader. Why isn't it Robert Catesby day, the head of the plot? Why is his name all blended into other easily forgotten names in history, while the unfortunate Guy Fawkes is celebrated forever?  The first Guy Fawkes day was mandated the year after the scheme failed by the British government. I could see if they celebrated it as a triumphant moment in British history, but this doesn't seem to be the focus. 

Perhaps it is because we're coming up on the third anniversary of our own 'treasonous plot' that it is making it harder for me to understand. 






I'm trying to imagine a day of fireworks and bonfires and celebrations on January 6th. 






I have already forgotten this fine fellow's name,

but what if children made effigies of him and marched around collecting pennies?



What if there was a poem: 

Remember, remember January sixth. 

A day of loud and ignorant hicks. 

I see no reason 

why we'd remember such treason, 

The thought of it makes me quite sick. 



I never gave Guy Fawkes much thought before, but hearing about it from my daughter the first time, and then reading about it, I didn't understand. All this time later, I still don't understand what makes this a celebration. 

My daughter tried to explain it to me. "It's like us celebrating the Fourth of July."

My internal voice: 'But no. No it's not. We celebrate in the US because we won. Britain sees it as treason. It is not celebrated there." 

But I kept silent because I know that I was making her impatient. Afterwards, I wandered off to read some more on the topic. For all the reading, I still don't understand exactly what is being celebrated. 

Understand that I am not complaining or ridiculing or anthing like that. 
No disrespect is intended.
To be honest, it looks like quite a celebration, good family fun.
 
I'm just so curious about how this all came to be. 


Explain it to me. 
Explain it to me like I'm in kindergarten. 

40 comments:

  1. I can't explain it. I never understood it myself. I didn't even bother with any research. I grew up in Australia where Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated with bonfires and pretty fireworks and really, that bit was all we kids cared about. We did somehow learn that Guy Fawkes was burned at the stake and that's why the bonfires, but of course that was wrong and nobody really cared.

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    1. This is something that I really never gave a lot of thought to. I knew it was a 'thing' there. I knew the basics of it, but just accepted it as something that was done there (like Boxing Day).

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  2. No, I don't understand it either nor why some bushrangers (stage coach robbers) here are almost folk heroes.

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    1. Ha! That made me laugh. We had Bucky Phillips on the lam for quite a few months. He was a Seneca Indian with a long criminal record. He escaped from prison, four days before he was to be released. For months, all one heard was how he was an expert at living off the land and that he'd never be caught. He WAS caught of course. His method of living off the land was simple enough. He broke into empty camps and lived quietly off the provisions there, moving on when he ran out. When things got 'hot', he simply escaped on to a reservation where the police could not go (reservations are their own sovereign nation, the laws enforced by their own). He wound up killing two policemen, but he was eventually caught when someone realized he was living in their camper stored away in a barn for the winter. Yet he is considered a folk hero here by some.

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  3. People just like an excuse for a party. Especially when the 'hero' Guy Fawkes and his friends tried to get rid of the then government. Anarchy is a joyous freedom - chuckle. In a way January 6th in your country does have its followers as well, the sheer delight of trying to bring a government down.
    Fire was a traditional way of killing, whether you were a catholic, witch or terrorist which Fawkes was.

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    1. January 6th does have its followers as well as you point out. We've got people stockpiling ammo for 'the civil war'. This is not in jest. They are dead serious, and it is a horrifying thing to listen to, because I know for a fact that if such a thing were to actually take place, that person would be killing ME, and be proud to do it. I'm not ready to chuckle about it just yet, I guess. Too many divisions in my own family as a result of it.

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    2. Politics are a whole different show in America Debby, so I wasn't chuckling about the 6th January. It was a frightening show of stupidity on the part of a mob, who luckily did not have a leader. We are in a time when there is a thrust for power from many sources, some of them downright evil.

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  4. google: why do we celebrate guy fawkes? The Scotsman explains it well. It’s basically to celebrate the king being saved ( act of parliament1606) fireworks representing gunpowder.

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    1. I read this and many articles with the same facts. Rachel's comment led me to an 'aha moment'. This was a government mandated celebration, because they wanted people to bear in mind what happened to treasonists. They were attempting to insure such a thing never happened again. That made it clear in my mind why Guy Fawkes is the star of the show as well.

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  5. I think that Guy Fawkes...or Guido Ffowc...had fewer connections as one might call them. Catesby did.

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  6. Well, this year it was pretty much a washout, the village Firework display was cancelled.
    When thought about it really is a strange event, but a bonfire and fireworks as the nights get darker and longer is very cheerful.

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  7. 1. King James 1st and his Parliament were unpopular with the Catholics in England. James 1st was Protestant.
    2. A gang, of which Guy Fawkes was a member, conspired to blow up Parliament.
    3. After getting an inside job along with one other in the house next door to Parliament they tunnelled underground to the Parliament building.
    4. Guy Fawkes built a bonfire with wood and hid the gunpowder underneath the wood.
    5. He was the conspirator caught red-handed and arrested.
    6. The plot to kill the king was thus thwarted.
    7. King James declared the day Guy Fawkes was caught as a public holiday for ever more to be celebrated that the Plot failed. .
    8. It was thus named Guy Fawkes Day because it was Guy Fawkes on the day who was caught.

    I hope my explanation helps Debbie.

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    1. You certainly helped me Rachel😊

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    2. It actually helped quite a bit Rachel. Although I am quite familiar with the facts of it, what I was missing was one simple thing: The government wanted to make sure that people remembered what happens to terrorists who try to overthrow the government. That's the part I was missing.

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  8. An act of Parliament made it mandatory to celebrate Guy Fawkes night. This was repealed in the nineteenth century.

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    1. After my 'aha!' moment reading Rachel's comment, I can certainly understand why. They were making an example of him as a way to insure that it did not happen again.

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  9. With fireworks attacks on emergency services it looks increasingly like selling fireworks will not be possible, but organised public displays will be.

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    1. Well, you sent me back to Google with that comment, Gz. How awful! I am headed back to read more.

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  10. I guess Rachel explained it pretty well. I have never really understood it either, or even tried to for that matter. So, I applaud you for trying. It made for a good topic.

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    1. She did a very good job of explaining it in an orderly fashion. Thanks again to Rachel!

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  11. It was also anti catholic night as well for a long time which is no longer the case, thank goodness. Apparently there were conspiracy theories back then too.

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    1. Evidently. But what strikes me is that one year after all this happened, Guy Fawkes day was mandated by the government. Can you imagine how painful it was for his family? Which leads me to another google search...I wonder what happened to his family.

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  12. https://www.notablebiographies.com/supp/Supplement-Ca-Fi/Fawkes-Guy.html

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  13. As was explained above (bravo Rachel!), the celebration is of the plot's failure. It IS a weird holiday, but it basically reaffirms public support for the monarchy. Plus fireworks are fun!

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    1. The reaffirmation of the monarchy is a very good way to put it.

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  14. I had never heard of Guy Fawkes, at least knew what he had done, until yesterday's morning trivia app on my phone, which I got wrong. Although I would rather have a "No Politics" day/week/month, I wouldn't be opposed to a day of remembrance for what happened on Jan 6th, much like Sep 11th. Perhaps it has already reached that status since all one has to do is mention the date and those images come rushing back. Not sure I would celebrate it like the Brits though.

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    1. A day of remembrance to a country who sees that day through two diametrically opposed visions is a dangerous thing, and just like the original event was orchestrated by dishonest people who wanted to use the people for their own purposes, any marking of it would permit those dishonest people to attempt to incite the people for their self same purposes.

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    2. That is a very good point and I have no doubt, right on the mark.

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  15. You bring up a very good point. It's a round about day to celebrate .It is confusing . No doubt something will be done to remember Jan.6 2021.

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    1. I hope you are wrong about that Red.

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  16. So interesting. My favorite craft brewery sponsors a Guy Fawkes weekend and I never have understood what it's all about. This helps. I still find it strange. I think Ed is suggesting we commemorate January 6th as a day our government came under siege and withstood it, which is certainly worth noting. But you are right, there are too many crazies who would see it as celebrating the actions taken, not that we survived.

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    1. Oh, I understand that this is exactly what he was saying and thought he said it well. I just think as long as we have people in positions of power who continue to scream about 'the big lie' and other QANON nonsense, the danger is always there that they would once again sieze upon the day as a way to once again incite people to act.

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  17. I see that you have already had a lot of explanations of why we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. When I first met my husband, who is originally from York, he explained that St. Peter's School in the city has never held bonfire night celebrations because Guy Fawkes went to school there and they consider it bad form to burn a former pupil! I just looked the school up and it was founded in 627, so I guess they have had an awful lot of pupils, although none so notorious as Mr Fawkes...

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    1. LOL. Bad form to burn a former pupil. That's hilarious. When viewed as a friendly government reminder that treason is against the law, it does make much more sense.

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  18. We here in New Zealand also "celebrate" Guy Fawkes (British empire and all that). Not so effective when it doesn't get dark until after 8pm!

    Some would suggest Guy was the only person to enter parliament with honest intentions!

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  19. In Devon, two towns, Ottery St Mary & Hatherleigh, mark the date with a different fire related activity - flaming tar barrels.
    https://www.bing.com/search?q=ottery+tar+barrels+youtube&qs=UT&pq=ottery+tar&sk=AS1UT2&sc=10-10&cvid=8CE9C0563929405F92DF50782ABC8F26&FORM=QBRE&sp=4

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