Where Is Bonfire Night Celebrated? Remember, remember, the 5th of November… well it’s just about over for another year so maybe it’s a good time to reflect on this question. Surprisingly, it’s not just in the UK.
The Gunpowder Plot is now 414 years old. Despite being so elderly, it is remembered to this day. Arguably, many people setting off their fireworks while munching on bonfire toffees and baked potatoes, have only the vaguest understanding of how this night of fireworks came about. It happened because of Government decree. Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding explosives that plotters, led by Robert Catesby, had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempted murder, people lit bonfires around London. The introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. This was repealed in 1859, by which time Bonfire Night had become something of a tradition.
Bonfire Night Around the World
When early settlers colonised around the world, they took their customs with them. This means that Bonfire Night went with them. Surprisingly, it is still celebrated around the world.
It is marked in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and in Saint Kitts and Nevis. New Zealand still celebrates Guy Fawkes Night too. While independent, New Zealand still has Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Unlike New Zealand, Australia stopped celebrating Guy Fawkes Night in the 1970s. South Africa also celebrates, despite the Queen being stripped of her title of Queen of South Africa when the country became a republic in 1961.
David Cressy, the British-born Professor of History, summarised the modern celebration. ‘The rockets go higher and burn with more colour, but they have less and less to do with memories of the Fifth of November … it might be observed that Guy Fawkes’ Day is finally declining, having lost its connection with politics and religion.’
Halloween or Bonfire Night?
Many observers think that Halloween is replacing Bonfire Night. Maybe that’s true. But what we can all be sure of is that fireworks still form an important part of many celebrations, festivities and fun. Come and join us at la Academia to find out more about festivals around the world by learning a new language. Whether Spanish, Greek or Chinese – we can help you celebrate.