05 November 2009

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catched
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holla boys, holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holla boys, holla boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

Guy Fawkes Day, commemorated on - appropriately - November 5th, celebrates the downfall of the Gunpowder Plot, led by Fawkes and members of a Catholic conspiracy to bring down the Houses of Parliament in London on 11/05/1605.

I learned the poem above when I was much younger, before it was given a storyline for my generation in the movie "V for Vendetta." And even though I don't celebrate with festivities like in England and many of the former British commonwealths, I still like to remember the story of the Plot and this poem.

For most of the rest of the world, Guy Fawkes Day slips by unnoticed as what is now called Bonfire Day in Labrador, British Columbia, and Newfoundland in Canada. New Zealand and South Africa commemorate the day with fireworks shows, while Australia stopped its celebrations of Nov. 5th due to the banning of the public use of fireworks. In Britain, where the largest celebrations occur, people burn effigies of Fawkes and build bonfires which they cook in, not dissimilar to the American Fourth of July and our traditions of fireworks and backyard barbeques.

So my friends, if even for just a moment, remember, remember the Fifth of November - if nothing else, it marks one of the first times a major terrorist plot was thwarted by a government... 404 years ago today.

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