Monday, November 05, 2007

Guy Fawkes Night

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

John Derbyshire remembers:
Around this time of year, my American friends ask me about Guy Fawkes night. What's that all about, they want to know? Is it really a big thing over there in England?

Well, I am totally out of touch, but when I was a kid, Guy Fawkes Night — November Fifth — was a huge thing, second only to Christmas on the fun scale. There were fireworks; there was a bonfire; on top of the bonfire was a Guy — a dummy, of course, not an actual person — who got burned up when you lit the bonfire. In the days prior to the Fifth, you trundled your Guy around the neighborhood in a wheelbarrow for the appreciation of passersby, appreciation expressed by the giving of "pennies for the Guy."
So who was Guy Fawkes? Short answer: terrorist. A Roman Catholic terrorist. He and his gang were dealt with rather harshly, which may be why we don't hear much about Catholic terrorists any more, at least for the last four hundred years or so.