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Shine a Light: Bonfire Night

Remember, remember the 5th of November … Penny for the guy?

Posted on Wednesday 06th October 2021

“Remember, remember the 5th of November … Penny for the guy?”

In childhood, these words were commonplace on the run up to Guy Fawkes’ Night, more commonly referred to as Bonfire Night these days. Indeed, recently I have come across a number of people who have never even heard of this historical figure.

The origin of Bonfire Night goes way back to 1605 and commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Parliament of King James I. It was introduced as a public day giving thanks for the sparing of the monarch’s life. Starting as The Observance of 5th November Act, and later known as Gunpowder Treason Day.

The Observance of 5th November Act was repealed in 1859 by which time, children had already begun to beg for money accompanied by effigies of Guy Fawkes, one of the principal conspirators in the plot who, along with his fellow plotters, was tortured barbarically and executed for his participation, surely the epitome of “cruel and unusual” punishment.

Gunpowder plot

In more recent times, the 5th November takes the form of family get-togethers for barbeques, fun and fireworks, or attending fireworks displays. I have attended a couple of amazing displays where the pyrotechnics have been synchronised with rock music; the booms and whizzes slotting seamlessly into bass lines and guitar riffs.

Whilst for many, the spectacle of dazzling fountains of fiery petals and the accompanying startling sound blasts are a heart-thumpingly joyful occasion, an increasing number of people are calling for restrictions on the private sale of fireworks. Bonfire piles can also hide hedgehog hibernation hangouts, as well as hidey-holes for toads, frogs and reptiles. Safety is of course a big consideration around Bonfire Night.

Whatever you choose to do, stay safe, have fun, and maybe spare a thought for Guy Fawkes!

Book recommendations:

  • You Wouldn’t Want to Be Guy Fawkes – Fiona Macdonald, David Antram
  • The Firework-Maker’s Daughter – Philip Pullman
  • The Explosive Story of Fireworks! – Kama Einhorn, Daniel Guidera

Art & Craft Idea:

Create bright, colourful scratch artwork using Scratch Design Boards.

  • Start by showing children firework display videos.
  • Ask them to think about words to describe the sights and how it makes them feel. Create a word bank of all of the differnet words used.
  • Give children their own scratch board. Simply scratch into the surface to reveal a rainbow of colour.
  • Finish their masterpiece by framing the fireworks with vocabulary.