Friday, November 05, 2010

Remember, remember the fifth of November...

Portrait of Guy Fawkes
Many people in Canada know very little about Guy Fawkes Day, which is celebrated in the UK.  The day commemorates the uncovering of the "Gunpowder Treason," a supposed attempt by Sir Robert Catesby and a number of Catholic co-conspirators to blow up the British House of Lords and kill the Protestant King James I during the opening of Parliament on November 5th, 1605.  The attempt was thwarted when, after receiving an anonymous letter detailing the plot, British authorities discovered one of Catesby's co-conspirators, Guy Fawkes, guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder beneath the House of Lords.  Fawkes was arrested, and while most of his co-conspirators attempted to flee London, eight men, including Fawkes, were arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

A bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night
The outcome of the Gunpowder Treason is felt even today.  Traditionally, before the opening of Parliament, the cellar of the Palace of Westminster is inspected by the Yeomen of the Guard in order to ensure that no one has planted explosives in a modern-day attempted Gunpowder Treason.  Only once the cellar has been declared clear is the Queen permitted to enter.  In Great Britain, Guy Fawkes Day (November the fifth) is celebrated by lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks.  Small representations of Guy Fawkes are purchased and displayed, and these effigies are burned in the bonfires.  This practice has diminished over the years, slowly being replaced by American Halloween.  In Canada, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated in a few areas, such as Nanaimo BC and Newfoundland.

British Yeomen of the Guard

In Korea, no one celebrates Guy Fawkes Day, and mention of it here draws only a blank stare, much as it does in most of Canada.  So, how will I be commemorating Guy Fawkes Day, you ask?  Well, I will be going to a friend's apartment tonight, where three of us will gather in front of my computer and watch V For Vendetta.  There is definitely something to be said for tradition.  I wonder where I can buy some popcorn?


Phillip said...

I find it ironic that Guy Fawkes masks are now used globally by people who are vehemently against oppression and very pro-freedom, yet Fawkes himself wanted to take out Parliament and the King and bring in a Catholic hegemony that would rule with an iron, dictatorial fist.

Miramanee said...

That is indeed ironic.

Sounds like a night of fun Dan, wish I was there. I LOVE V for Vendetta. I have the book and the movie.

Kertrats said...

Neither of you have posted on FRS lately! Get on it!!! :)

Oh, also, good to hear from you! :)

Kertrats said...

Oh, and Phil, exactly. Trading one totalitarian ruler for another, namely the Church and whoever the Pope's representative was to be.

Popek said...

I always thought Guy Fawkes wanted a New Catholic King, not a papal representative. (splitting hairs i guess. or would it be heirs?)

so those anarchists and protesters using the guy fawkes masks are supporters of catholic overthrowing of protestant governments? score

Kertrats said...

Quote: (splitting hairs i guess. or would it be heirs?)