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[P]
Bonfire night

By Tatarigami in Culture
Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 05:56:24 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Remember remember,
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot.

"We see no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."


The night of November 5th marks the celebration of Bonfire Night (also called Guy Fawkes Night) in England and other places like New Zealand and parts of Canada. The holiday was also observed in areas of the US until the 18th century, when interest seemed to die. Bonfire Night commemorates the failure of a group of Catholic conspirators to blow up the English parliament using thirty-six barrels of gunpowder hidden in a cellar under the House of Lords.

This non-event took place in 1605, two years into the reign of of King James I. English Catholics, who had been badly-treated by the previous sovereign Queen Elizabeth I, found that the new King was just as unsympathetic to their plight as Elizabeth had been. In response to this, a group of thirteen conspirators led by the charismatic Robert Catesby hatched a plot to kill the King, the Prince of Wales, and a number of the anti-Catholic Members of Parliament.

The gunpowder was to have been set off by Guy Fawkes, but some time on the 3rd or 4th of November his cellar was raided by government troops and he was arrested. Fawkes was put to torture in order to obtain a confession and the names of his co-conspirators, before being hanged, drawn and quartered -- a particularly gruesome method of execution which involves near-fatal strangulation followed by evisceration, and finally dismemberment using a team of horses to rip the offender limb from limb.

History records that the King was alerted to the plot against his life by a letter from a loyalist infiltrating the conspiracy. However, there's some doubt that this letter was genuine. It's noted that the letter was quite vague, giving no details of when the attempt would be made, or who was involved. In spite of this, the King's men appeared to know precisely where to look for Fawkes, and who to arrest before his confession had been obtained. One theory says that the King knew of the plot the whole time it was being planned and prepared, and only allowed it to proceed as far as it did in order to further his own anti-Catholic agenda.

Regardless of the details, citizens were already celebrating the victory by the night of November 5th, lighting bonfires to signify King James' triumph over disloyal elements. The bonfires became more elaborate as time passed, with effigies of Guy Fawkes and sometimes the Pope as well being burned. Fireworks were also added, and it became a tradition for children to display their effigies in the week leading up to Bonfire Night, asking passers-by to donate a 'penny for the guy' in order to buy their own fireworks.

Bonfire Night isn't a public holiday here in New Zealand, so the weekend before the event has traditionally been the time to get together with friends to enjoy some company and make the night sky a bit more colourful. There are also more elaborate public firework displays sponsored by city councils, featuring all the varieties of fireworks which have been banned from sale in recent years for safety reasons. We set off a few small explosions to commemorate Guy Fawkes' failure to set off a bigger one.

*Information for this story was found at www.bonfirenight.net.

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Display: Sort:
Bonfire night | 88 comments (77 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
US (3.50 / 6) (#3)
by turmeric on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 05:18:44 PM EST

we had an old brit teacher at my middle school
so on nov5 in fact we did light a giant
bundle of wood on fire filled with effigies we
had made in teams. we also read poems and
he did a little 'comedy' presentation to the
parents while we ate english food. egads man.
egads.

I'm sorry to hear (4.00 / 6) (#8)
by Tatarigami on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:03:44 PM EST

...that on an otherwise happy occasion you were forced to eat English food. Now there's a public hazard that ought to be banned.

[ Parent ]
hooray for public execution!!!!!! (2.50 / 2) (#4)
by d0ink on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 05:34:28 PM EST

this holiday sounds like a fire hazard, though

Fire hazard (5.00 / 2) (#7)
by Tatarigami on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:01:10 PM EST

It is. You can't buy them anymore, but when I was a boy there were two very popular lines of fireworks called 'tom thumbs' and 'double happies'. They didn't make any coloured sparks or smoke, they just went 'bang'. However, sometimes the fuse would be faulty and your cracker wouldn't go 'bang'. When that happened, we used to cut them open and lay trails of gunpowder, which we would then drop lit matches on in order to gleefully watch as fire exploded along the trail. There were a few fires started that way, and although we never figured out a way to do it, we were always plotting how to get someone we didn't like to hold onto a cracker while it exploded.

Sky rockets and pinwheels are also banned now. It's a real shame that a stupid minority who were determined to earn Darwin Awards had to go and spoil the fun for everyone.

[ Parent ]

When I was a kid... (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by dipipanone on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:59:59 AM EST

We lived in a small street of terraced houses (think Coronation Street, for those of you familiar with British TV) and every year, about a month beforem the kids would begin to amass bonfire wood in an alley way at the top of the street.

However, all of the other local kids had the same idea as well, and so we'd have raiding parties, in which you'd divide the local kids so that half would guard your stockpile, while the rest would try to find an unguarded stockpile. If you got caught looting another street's firewood, then a stone-throwing battle would take place.

On the big night, we'd pile all of the wood in the middle of the street -- usually up to 7 or 8 feet high, and then light the bonfire. We were lucky, as there were two blank walls at the top of the street -- one the end wall of a house, the other, the wall of a municipal dump, and so nobody really complained, but the whole thing was all run by pre-pubescent children, and as such was indeed as dangerous as hell.

But we'd keep the fire going all night, baking potatoes in it and throwing bangers and rip-raps at girls to pass the time.

Today's nanny culture would never allow it, sadly.


--
Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]

Quite simply (1.78 / 14) (#13)
by imrdkl on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:37:24 PM EST

The attempt on the Kings life had nothing to do with catholicism, nor religion of any sort. It was, is, and always will be about the land. The land that the British took from the Irish so long ago, and that will someday be returned.

If you want to memorialize something, why not memorialize the Good Friday agreement?

Good Friday agreement? (3.66 / 3) (#17)
by ChazR on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 08:21:23 PM EST

The Good Friday agreement? Why the hell would anyone want to remember that?

It has achieved almost nothing (other than a Nobel peace prize for a couple of dodgy characters).

Kneecappings are still common. (That's where they hold you down and shoot you in the back of the knees).

The most vicious attack on civilians in the history of the conflict took place soon after the Good Friday agreement.
Oh, and the power sharing executive is suspended. Given a choice, I think I'll just go outside and let off a few fireworks. It's safer.

[ Parent ]

Do you know anything? (5.00 / 5) (#20)
by gzt on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 10:58:52 PM EST

This had nothing to do with Ireland.  There are these things called "books" which will teach you what happened in the "past".  I'll leave it at that, kiddo, and let you fill in the vast gaps of your knowledge.

See, after the Reformation in England, there was this thing called "tension" between the government and the Catholics in England.  I'm not even going to cite any evidence; I'll simply be smug.  

Try again tomorrow, but talk about a subject where you have some kind of knowledge.

Cheers,
GZ

[ Parent ]

So, you're saying (none / 0) (#27)
by imrdkl on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 03:37:40 AM EST

that Fawkes was a good catholic, then. Right? Horseshit. Catesby, Fawkes, and the rest gave not a damn about the rights of the people to worship, friend. It was the brutal repression of their rights to live, work, and own land that brought them to their desperate plan.

Pooh pooh me, if you will, but I know the tyranny and blood-thirst of the british empire, and celebrating this event (and the brutal crackdowns which followed it), especially as the Good Friday agreement is slipping through your clenched fists, just seems a bit ignorant of history, to me.

[ Parent ]

Heavens no. (3.33 / 3) (#37)
by gzt on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:58:05 AM EST

I'm not saying Fawkes was a good Catholic, I'm saying this has nothing to do with Ireland.  

Yada yada yada, doonga doonga doonga.

Cheers,
GZ

[ Parent ]

What about those of us... (none / 0) (#24)
by Stick on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 02:59:27 AM EST

Who don't want it returned. There are many economic and general day to day reasons why I wouldn't want Northern Ireland to become part of the republic.


---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
Is bonfire night celebrated in NI? (none / 0) (#25)
by ukryule on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 03:13:46 AM EST

and if so, has it still got all the religous/political connertations?

[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#34)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:19:34 AM EST

... but private ownership of fireworks is illegal there. Possibly part of the reason for that is the possibility intercommunal violence on what is, after all, a manifestly anti-catholic celebration. Unionists go to organised displays instead. I imagine that nationalists probably don't, though.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
I dont think that was a actual part of the plan (none / 0) (#31)
by imrdkl on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 08:46:47 AM EST

There's many things I don't understand about the modern-day economics of the situation, that's true. However, as I recall, Good Friday established self-rule. In any case, my point really wasn't related so much to the modern-day politics, as the brutal repression of 500 years being glorified to this very day.

[ Parent ]
Its not the oppression. (none / 0) (#63)
by bil on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 09:10:19 AM EST

Its not the brutal repression of 500 years ago that is being glorified but the saving of the king and government from assasination by a bunch of English traitors and terrorists. An event as worthy of celebration as any military victory.

The brutal oppression was just a consequence of the celebrated event.

By the way hanging drawing and quartering was the standard punishment for traitors, not something dreamt up for the occasion, or reserved for catholics.

bil


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Well I don't want it either. (5.00 / 2) (#45)
by Bill Godfrey on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 07:33:27 PM EST

As an Englander, I certainly would rather just give the place back to the Rep/Ireland. Damn place is more trouble than it's worth.

[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 0) (#46)
by Stick on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 09:00:04 PM EST

There's less crime over here than there is in England. I know people who've decided to live here rather than England just because it's a nicer place to live.


---
Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
However (none / 0) (#58)
by walwyn on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:10:29 AM EST

Belfast has a murder rate more than twice that of London.
----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]
Northern Ireland.... (none / 0) (#62)
by Bill Godfrey on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 09:08:16 AM EST

Would it cease to be a nice place as part of the Republic of Ireland?

[ Parent ]

Oh, Rubbish (4.80 / 5) (#35)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:50:18 AM EST

Catesby (the ringleader) was a Staffordshire Catholic, descended from a long line of English nobles. AFAIK, he'd never even been to Ireland. His father had land confiscated for refusing to attend a protestant church. Catesby refused to graduate in order to avoid taking the oath of supremacy. Although he wasn't entirely consistent in it (he married the daughter of a protestant), he remainde active in the catholic cause his whole life. See his Encyclopaedia Brittanica entry. Guy (also Guido) Fawkes was a mercenary, who had served in the Spanish (ie. Catholic) army. So: yes, they were both good Catholics. Neither of them (or the other plotters) had any connection Ireland. They were plotting because King James I threatened the Catholic aristocracy to an even greater extent than Elizabeth I had.

Even the slimmest connection to Ireland is extremely improbable, because the Gunpowder Plotters plotted in 1605, two years before the Flight of the Earls, and a good three years before the Plantation of Ulster began. It was those events which created the modern conflict in Northern Ireland, marking a change in the nature of the English regime in Ireland from overlordship (which had been in place in the 12th century) to colonisation, repression and settlement.

The Irish would have had no great love of England before that time, but the Irish aristocracy (and all the Gunpowder plotters were aristocrats) would not have been bothered by it, and certainly would not have been required to be protestants.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#41)
by imrdkl on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 02:39:18 PM EST

I'm clearly outgunned here. :-/ It is perhaps arguable that their failed attempt is what encouraged the later attempt in Ireland, however. In any case, my first point stands. This is not a good time to celebrate the repressive traditions of a 800 years, although if James had been killed in the attempt, I suppose there'd be fewer bibles in the world. Perhaps it is worth the occasional note.

Perhaps the English could reduce the frequency of the celebration somewhat. Consider a 100 year jubilee, perhaps, on the appropriate anniversary. Thanks for straightening thing out, anyways. I suppose I may have been, uh, well.. confused about the two plots.

[ Parent ]

That's a gross oversimplification. (none / 0) (#48)
by aphrael on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:11:10 PM EST

Both England and Germany were torn apart in the seventeenth century by civil wars which were essentially religious in nature; the one in Germany was in part the result of a weak king trying to impose his religious will on the local magnates (and failing).

Land is often important in politics, but it isn't the sole motivator.

[ Parent ]

Revision of History (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by craigtubby on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 05:24:15 AM EST

> The land that the British took from the Irish
> so long ago, and that will someday be returned.

Erm, there wasn't a Britain at the times.  James I was King of England and King of Scotland but they were seperate countries.

Catholics at the time were repressed in England - had their land and rights taken from them.  Just the same as under Queen (Bloody) Mary protestants were also burned and tortured.

To claim it was all to do with Ireland is rather strange - especially when it wasn't.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

thanks for the tip (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by nex on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 07:41:44 PM EST

so, if you're planning to resign from the catholic church (like me), the 5th of november would actually be a good day to do so, huh?

:-)

Yeah, but ... (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by ukryule on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 03:30:52 AM EST

... watch out. If your Catholic neighbour starts piling up suspicous packages against the side of your house, phone the police before he can light the fuse!

[ Parent ]
Why bother? (none / 0) (#60)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:25:44 AM EST

You don't need to get the police involved. Just phone up your new found unionist mates, and have them smash his face to a pulp and nail him to a fence.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
How do you "resign"? (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 07:37:42 AM EST

Do you turn in your rosary at the bisophric?

Personally, I just started going someplace else. I figured they'd figure it out sooner or later.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

you _have_ to "resign" in most countries (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by nex on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 04:31:03 AM EST

how do you resign? you go to some office, bring certain documents, fill out some forms (surprise!).

i was never asked wheter i'd like to be a member of "the" church, but my parents had me baptized (i hope that's the correct word, my favourite dictionary site is down at the moment :-) like it's customary here. if i wouldn't fill out some form every year and prove that i'm still a student, i would have to pay church tax. of course i don't consider myself a catholic christ and i haven't gone to church in ages, but officially, i'm still a member of the catholic church. going somewhere else (what i don't plan to do!) wouldn't suffice and no one would "figure".

when you want to quit, you don't go to the church though, the chuch tax is handled by the government.

[ Parent ]

Dang. (none / 0) (#83)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 01:21:56 PM EST

Church tax. Never woulda thought it.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

quite funny thing, actually. (none / 0) (#88)
by benson hedges on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 09:42:26 PM EST

here in austria, the church tax was introduced some 60 years ago by a certain mr adolf hitler, to mute the church. nifty, eh?
--
When all is One, all violence is masochism.
[ Parent ]
I thought it was Anarchists (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by opendna on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 10:42:54 PM EST

Legend has it that Fawkes was in possession of a mask with a long nose when he was arrested.

The transcription of the trial of Guy Fawkes

I'm kidding about the anarchists.



A mask (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by Tatarigami on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 12:21:55 AM EST

Like this one?

V For Vendetta is a graphic novel by Alan Moore whose (anti)hero wears a Guy Fawkes mask. Apparently, the masks are quite difficult to find these days.

[ Parent ]

I think its a shame that Guy Fawks failed (n/t) (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by rdskutter on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 12:29:33 AM EST


If you're a jock, inflict some pain / If you're a nerd then use your brain - DAPHNE AND CELESTE
Don't be sad (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by Tatarigami on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 12:49:25 AM EST

The building's still there, if you'd like to have a crack at it yourself.

[ Parent ]
No it's not (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:15:42 AM EST

The modern Palace of Westminster was only built in 1834, when the old one burned down.  

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Was parliament in the palace was it? (none / 0) (#42)
by ThreadSafe on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 06:19:27 PM EST


Make a clone of me. And fucking listen to it! - Faik
[ Parent ]

There has been a palace on the site... (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by walwyn on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 07:18:56 PM EST

...since Canute built one in 1016. Edward the confessor moved his court there a few years later. Henry VII abandoned it in 1512 when he moved into Whitehall after a fire. The present building was completed in 1860.
----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]
Origin of word 'guy' (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by Stephen Turner on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 05:17:09 AM EST

One other comment to make is that this is the origin of the word 'guy' meaning 'man' or 'person'.

The effigies of Guy Fawkes burnt on top of the bonfire are known as 'guys', and this became a slang term for a man.

Kids used to build their own guys and then collect money from neighbours with the slogan 'a penny for the guy'.

So, how come... (1.00 / 1) (#66)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 10:38:32 AM EST

...gay dudes call me 'guy' when they try to pick me up? I need some background on that.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Not any more in Australia (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by BruTeQ on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 06:25:35 AM EST

It's not celebrated in Australia, but my mum & dad tell me that bonfires were lit and fireworks let off on Guy Fawkes day when they were kids about 50 years ago.

I don't know why it was banned, but I think it was because of the injuries (no restrictions on fireworks back then) and the fires. It may not be so much of a coincidence that Fire Ban season starts on the First of November in South Australia.

Queen's Birthday fireworks instead. (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by vastor on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 04:32:34 AM EST

Atleast thats how it has been here in NSW. Fireworks day was on the Queen's Birthday, of course, since the restrictions on using fireworks were brought in, it has been curtailed a lot. It was only when I was really young that we used to get to set off fireworks etc (though from what I gather restrictions are lighter again now so long as you sign a document saying you're going to use the fireworks in rural rather than urban areas etc).

[ Parent ]
Do we burn effigies of the Pope? (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by it certainly is on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 07:04:19 AM EST

For all my life, I've believed that we burn effigies of Guido Fawkes, simply for being a traitor, but Walwyn suggests it's an effigy of the Pope, and that Bonfire Night is an anti-Catholic celebration. I still don't believe the Pope effigy story, but it does sound rather anti-Catholic. Check out his comments and see what you think.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Apparently ... (4.75 / 4) (#36)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:54:48 AM EST

... the effigy was officially changed from being one of the Pope to being one of Fawkes in 1806. Presumably something to do with Toleration. Some communities apparently still burn the Pope, as well as, or instead of Guy.

It pretty clearly is anti-Catholic, at least in the abstract, although it isn't connected to any modern-day dislike of Cathlics. British patriotism is pretty hard to disentangle from protestantism and resistance to Catholicism.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

When I was young... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by walwyn on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 12:40:31 PM EST

...we only thought about the firework display. Then one night we were 'penny for the guy'ing in Pimlico and this old woman in a black coat carrying a stick started on about how 'He was a horrible man, damn catholics, bloody Irish...he got his comeuppence...damn papists' quite scary she was too.

On some bonefire nights we have burnt a model of the Houses of Parliament.
----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]

Bonfire not celebrated at St. Peter's School, York (2.00 / 1) (#32)
by tin the fatty on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 09:58:05 AM EST

Guy Fawkes was an old boy there.

Guy Fawkes in London (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by keenan on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 01:15:43 PM EST

I've heard that Primrose Hill in Camden Town is the place to be for Guy Fawkes night in London. Anyone (Londoner or otherwise) want to verify this?  I'm going to be in London on Tuesday night and want to make sure I'm at the right place to see some action.

Keenan

Firework displays in London (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by tkboon on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 06:44:48 PM EST

Most of the London displays seem to have happened already, in the weekend 2-3 November. (I was on a "flight" of the London Eye this evening and got a marvellous view of displays from around the capital.) Those which Time Out list as being held on 5 November are as follows:
  • Brockwell Park (SE24)
  • Clapham Common (SW4)
  • Peckham Rye Common (SE15)
  • Roundwood Park (NW10)
  • Streatham Common (SW16)
  • Wimbledon Park (SW19)
There are also some displays next Saturday (9 November), including one on the River Thames from 5pm as part of the Lord Mayor's Show celebrations.

(Time Out doesn't actually include Primrose Hill in its list of displays, so I don't know whether it has happened, will happen, doesn't exist this year, or has a non-obvious different name.)

[ Parent ]

Primrose Hill cancelled this year (NT) (none / 0) (#74)
by grand master thump on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 04:32:18 AM EST


This sig has been stolen
[ Parent ]
Strange (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by cpt kangarooski on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 09:35:37 PM EST

The holiday was also observed in areas of the US until the 18th century, when interest seemed to die.

That seems odd. We're usually pretty big on having holidays here in the US. I wonder what could've caused that?

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

We didn't want to publicly celebrate (3.50 / 2) (#56)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 07:34:44 AM EST

anti-catholic bigotry?

It would be as ridiculous as celebrating the pro-slavery side of the civil war.

Oh, wait....


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Doubt it (none / 0) (#59)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:11:22 AM EST

More likely you yanks didn't want to celebrate a failure to topple The Empire when you could just celebrate your own success at doing the same...
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Us Yanks pretty much never (none / 0) (#64)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 09:54:45 AM EST

even think about the US civil war - the only ones putting up memorials and waving old battle flags are the guys who lost.

Of course there's the whole question of who, exactly, is a real "yankee" - these days I think the term only applies to three old lobstermen living north of boston.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Yanks (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 10:31:41 AM EST

I hate to tell you this, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, all you United States of America lot are "Yanks".

I was referring to your "independence day", which IRRC, you celebrate with quite a lot of enthusiasm.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

So all brits are Limeys, then? (none / 0) (#76)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 10:24:58 AM EST

Whether or not they ever served in the Royal Navy?


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#77)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 10:55:15 AM EST

Apparently we are. It wasn't my idea. That's just the way it is.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
LoL. don't you hate when that happens. (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 01:20:48 PM EST

Sigh. The story of life. You never get to pick your own nickname.

:-P


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

BTW - the "Yankee" thing... (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 09:25:20 AM EST

What I was thinking of when I ran down the term "yank" was an article on the perennial search for someone who actually considers themselves a "yankee". Southerners think it means Northerners - Northerners think it refers to North Easterners. NEasters think it refers to people from the New England states. People there think it only refers to people from....

And so on. Eventually you find out that it has become a NE version of the southern expression "poor white trash". It's a term everybody in the US is familiar with, but everyone thinks it refers to a different segment of the population.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Why is it a holiday? (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by phliar on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 11:55:03 PM EST

One thing I've never understood is why it was a holiday. Sure, if you're a kid, any excuse to burn and blow things up is good (sometimes I feel sorry for kids today who won't be able to do all the insansely dangerous things we used to do -- most of the time I don't!)...

...but it has always seemed to me that the whole affair is something I'd expect people to be -- not ashamed, but not proud of. From this twenty-first century vantage point it's obviously nothing but wholesale oppression followed by a show trial and unspeakably brutal punishment. However I'd have thought that it'd have fallen out of favour in the late twentieth. Has Guy Fawkes' night in modern England lost its brutal and anti-Catholic history?

For US readers: the closest analogue I could come up with was the Massacre at Wounded Knee (1890), or perhaps Plessy v. Ferguson (1892), the ruling that codified the "separate but equal" doctrine of segregation.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

Why not? (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by bil on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:59:12 AM EST

You say wholesale oppression followed by a show trial and unspeakably brutal punishment. I say foiling of a plot by traitors working for a foriegn power (catholic Spain) to murder the legitimate government of England, stage a coup, and usher in a new wave of anti protestant terror and repression, thus reversing the dramatic victory against the Spanish Armada and leaving England as a client state of the hated enemy.

If you want an analogue pick a battle from the American War Of Independance, or any other incident where the continued existence of your country as an independant state hung in the balance and you are in the right area.

Actually these days its a chance to burn stuff and let off fireworks giving a convenient event between the end of the summer and Christams for a country where Halloween is a new invention, and is as completley divorced from its roots in sectarian hatred as Halloween is from its roots in pagan religious practices.

Bil


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

Foiling evil plots vs. oppression (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by phliar on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 05:15:54 PM EST

You say wholesale oppression followed by a show trial and unspeakably brutal punishment. I say foiling of a plot by traitors working for a foriegn power (catholic Spain) to murder the legitimate government of England, stage a coup, and usher in a new wave of anti protestant terror and repression... .
Indeed. The examples I pointed out -- Plessy v. Ferguson, or the Massacre at Wounded Knee -- can also be described differently: the former as the triumph of gentility and niceness over savagery, and the latter as a frontier battle against an armed state.

I don't know a lot about the US War of Independence, but from the British point of view, weren't they justified (applying the mores of the time) in trying to quash an armed rebellion of traitors, protestant no-goodnicks? After all, the Empire was at stake, just as it was in India in 1857, the "Sepoy Mutiny."

Thanks for answering my question about the modern-day opinion of Guy Fawkes Night. You mention that it is divorced from sectarian hatred much as the American Halloween tradition is from pagan rituals; however the Wiccans do celebrate it with pagan religious rites. I assume you won't find explicitly anti-Catholic traditions any more, at least in the open.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

War of 1812 (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by Al Macintyre on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 02:50:57 AM EST

In many ways the War of 1812 was much more brutal than the US Revolution, because the British Army learned from their defeat about the different guerrilla tactics of the rebels, for which they were totally unprepared to learn from at the time.

But leading up to the War of 1812, the British Monarchy was totally ignorant of any kind of government other than Monarchy, they were horrified at what was going on in France, totally oblivious to the equally horrendous abuses that preceded the French Revolution, saw that there were rebels within their own nation, so they thought they had an opportunity to terrorize the Rebel people into submission.
- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/
[ Parent ]

The Americans learned Guerila warfare from Britts (none / 0) (#85)
by mingofmongo on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 08:18:03 PM EST

The idea that the brittish were taken by surprise by Americans hiding behind bushes is a big myth. The Brits had known about fighting dirty for quite some time.

In reality, sometimes you have a line-up fight, and sometimes you take cover, depending on circumstances. Often the officers in charge don't make the right choice, but either way was open to both sides at the time.

Remember, until Thomas Paine told them different, they were all Brittish, and most of the Americans thought they were having a little temporary rebellion over trade issues. America's best millitary leaders at the time were former Brittish Army and Navy and learned their dirty fighting in other unhappy parts of the empire.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Religion - a nation fails to be arsed. (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by datamodel on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 07:56:58 AM EST

I assume you won't find explicitly anti-Catholic traditions any more, at least in the open.

Correct. In the UK most people aren't religious, and/or aren't religiously observant - they do like setting off pyrotechnics though and setting fire to things.

BBC has poll of "people who express a religious affiliation" as being 48% in the UK (more like 75% for 18-24 yr olds), 86% in the US, 92% of Italians. There's a perception of a wide choice of religions too, rather than a christian monoculture so in general there aren't really any anti-<religion-here> traditions or movements. Unless you count rampant atheism I suppose...

Cheers

M.



[ Parent ]

Another thing (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by epepke on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 07:59:53 PM EST

If people in the U.S., just once, burned effigies of Osama bin Laden or even Benedict Arnold on the appropriate anniversaries, there would be so much screaming about how vicious and bloodthirsty Americans were that it would kill all the remaining whales in the Atlantic ocean.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
That's different (4.33 / 3) (#70)
by fishpi on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:22:21 PM EST

There's a big difference in today's world between burning an effigy of Osama Bin Laden and of Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes wasn't around in the lifetime of anyone currently living, nor their parents or grandparents, so he simply doesn't seem real to the people who are celebrating bonfire night. The tradition has long since decayed into mere ceremony.

[ Parent ]
9/11 = bin Laden day (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by Al Macintyre on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 02:46:45 AM EST

I think it is in extremely bad taste for the news media to treat 9/11 as a day of remembering the attacks.

It was pretty smart for the government to make it a day that WE WORK AND REMEMBER the people who died.

By comparison, labor day, independence day, veteran's day, etc. are today all excuses to have a holiday, in which not 1 person in 1000 remembers what the historical significance is of the day.

- Al's weblog: http://radio.weblogs.com/0107846/ donate your unused PC resources (only when you not using them) to cure cancer http://members.ud.com/about/
[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 0) (#81)
by greenrd on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 01:10:52 PM EST

Remembering the attacks, remembering the people who died - what's the difference, really?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Come off it (none / 0) (#87)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 06:27:15 PM EST

At the time of the gunpowder plot, there was no "brutal oppression". Catholics were not actively persecuted (in England, that happened only in a half-hearted way for a few years under Elizabeth). Upper class Catholics were pretty much allowed to practice their religion, although they had to pay fines for not attending services of the established church. They couldn't serve in any state role without lying about their religion, which many actually did, with the knowledge and acceptance of their colleagues. Obviously none of that would be acceptable today, but viewed in the framework of its times it was pretty mild. Compared with what went on in Spain and Germany, England was the very model of toleration.

The celebrations are anti-Catholic in the same sense as the 4th July celebration in the USA is anti-British: technically, it is, but in practice, it is a celebration of a victory over a threatening foreign power (Spain) that no longer exists as anything like its former self.

It is hard to see how your comparisons hold. The trial had no long-running legal repercussions, as Plessy v Ferguson did. There was no millitary massacre, as at Wounded Knee. It was simply a trial for attempted murder on a massive scale, plus treason,  

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Two things (2.00 / 1) (#50)
by psyconaut on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 02:06:24 AM EST

Wasn't his real name Guido rather than Guy? Also, I've never noticed this holiday celebrated here in Canada....but I guess maybe those freaks in the Maritimes might.

-psy

V for Vendetta (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by batlock on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 02:52:29 AM EST

I just re-read V for Vendetta this weekend. Ever since I first read it, I've been a fan of Guy Fawkes. A shame he didn't succeed.



I was just thinking (none / 0) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 07:30:31 AM EST

that I know more about V than Fawkes.

I also like Neil Gaiman's explanation of why the english celebrate this non-event (a brief poetry slam by Shakespeare and another writer.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Nuisance and drunkenness (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by rleyton on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 04:22:10 AM EST

Nuisance

Whilst I've always loved bonfire night ever since I was a kid (more of which later), I have to say I hate the number of fireworks that are let off weeks in advance, by spotty brats in some pyromaniacs version of a pissing-competition. At about midnight last night, it sounded like Blackheath common's firework display had moved a mile south...

Weeks before the event fireworks go on display in shops, and are nominally available to anybody over the age of 16. But we all know (as with so many things), this is widely abused by parents, older brothers, and lazy shopkeepers.

I hate sounding like a middle aged old man (god, my father even), but I really am beginning to think organised fireworks display, and licensed operators should be the only people who can do these things. Kids with these things are not only a nuisance, but a menace (fireworks through letter boxes anyone? Rockets fired at people? Bangers all month long? Not to mention the poor pets cowering under the sofa)

Drunkenmess

This is all sounding very downbeat. But I do always recall the bonfires I recall as a kid (doesn't everybody?). I grew up in the small village of Priddy, Somerset. The bonfire there would be built by farmers and villagers from garden/farm rubbish. Invariably a huge bonfire would result, and would smolder away for days afterwards.

Villagers all turned up and each family that had them, would set off a box of fireworks. We'd all envy the biggest rockets. Ironically, I remember messing about with a rocket and a discarded drain pipe seeing how far up the road we could get them going. I'm a hypocrite, I suppose.

Anyway, invariably the Young Farmers would be along, and fuelled on Scrumpy and Cider, they'd usually (for some weird reason) wind up being (or just feeling) responsible for ensuring the fire was going.

One particularly damp 5th November (for, shock, we used to do it on the actual day!), there was some trouble getting the fire to catch. I recall, being only about 9 or 10 at the time, being more than a little horrified when one of these lads climbed onto the partially burning bonfire, clutching a large can of something. He then merrily spread it around, before jumping off. Agricultural Diesel or Petrol, I don't know. But it was scary. Suffice to say, the fire caught quite quickly after that. He was lucky it didn't involve him.

Now? Well, the villagers get a local fireworks expert to put on a superb organised display. Much better (not to say safer), and hundreds (as opposed to 50 or 60 people) turn up. But my memory of the nutty Young Farmers lives on.

--
Ooooooooooooooh! What does this button do!? - DeeDee, Dexters Lab.
My Website

This weekend (none / 0) (#68)
by dJCL on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 06:51:40 PM EST

I didn't know about that holiday, but being a canuck, I'll just claim I did. This weekend I was out camping, almost the coldest 2nd of november on record, and it was not cold enough. We who were out camping have a tendancy to play with fire, a lot. We burn things, play with fuel and generally have a pyro's great time. Also known as extreemly dangerous and stupid. I know, skip all the comments about stupidity.

We went throu about 20 liters of fuel over the weekend, we throw some on the fire, just for the mushroom cloud we make, and discovered how to make bottles with twist tops blow their tops off when filled with gas, creating a 30 foot tall flame and 10 foot wide smoke rings. All good fun, we just step back a ways, because not all of them go up, some explode quite nicely. Generally a great time. I suspect it is like what you remember from years ago, it is just a way to take some risks and have some big bangs. People can get hurt, but that is part of what is missing from society today, the risk of living is dissapearing, so we need to give ourselves some, a little bit of adrenaline is good for you once in a while, otherwise our bodies would not give it to us, cheaper than drugs, and about as addictive sometimes.

There are other things done with flames, but you don't want to know them, suffice it to say that all of us have run throu balls of flame at some point, and most of us have caught on fire for a moment or two. It's dangerous, and fun.

If you wish to tell me how stupid this all is, danger to myself, danger to the people i'm with, danger to the environment i'm in, I know already, skip it.

my sig was too long, and getting annoying, so this is all you get. deal with it.
[ Parent ]

Better? Safer? More Fun? (none / 0) (#78)
by thejeff on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 11:00:29 AM EST

The organized show is certainly more spectacular, certainly safer, but is it more fun? It's the difference between watching something and participating in it.

People still want to take part and maybe that's part of why the kids run wild with the fireworks now. They don't have an outlet for it in the official celebration.

[ Parent ]

Sparklers (none / 0) (#79)
by rleyton on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 12:33:02 PM EST

In my day, we used to be happy with a sparkler.

*tch!*

--
Ooooooooooooooh! What does this button do!? - DeeDee, Dexters Lab.
My Website
[ Parent ]

November 5th came and went (none / 0) (#80)
by Tatarigami on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 01:07:18 PM EST

And pissed down with bloody rain all night here in NZ. In spite of the weather, there were determined people out in the downpour setting off bangers and roman candles. I'd admire them for their grit and determination if they hadn't all been gathered outside my window or if I hadn't been scheduled for the early shift the following morning...

Guy Fawkes day in the US (none / 0) (#84)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Tue Nov 05, 2002 at 07:22:06 PM EST

Harvey Mudd College will celebrate Guy Fawkes day tonight for the third year in a row, in the West Dorm courtyard. Not because they're anglophiles, but because they're pyrophiles.

Bonfire night | 88 comments (77 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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