"Who is this Guy Fawkes" 
"Why does he have a special Day"
Guy Fawkes (1570 -1606)
"Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."
This poetic little rhyme, still popular among children today, continues to remind us why, on the night of November 5th, bonfires surmounted by cloth manikins or "Guys" are set alight in every town and village in Britain amongst a blaze of celebratory fireworks:
On 5th November every year since 1605, every town and village in Britian lights bonfires, lets off fireworks, burns an effigy of him and celebrates the fact the Parliament and James I were not blown sky high by Guy Fawkes.
Gunpowder Plot, conspiracy to blow up the English Parliament and King James I on Nov. 5, 1605, the day set for the king to open Parliament. It was intended to be the beginning of a great uprising of English Catholics, who were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion. The conspirators, who began plotting early in 1604, expanded their number to a point where secrecy was impossible.
The conspirators rented a cellar under the House of Lords, in which 36 barrels of gunpowder, overlaid with iron bars and firewood, were secretly stored. 
The conspiracy was brought to light through a mysterious letter received by Lord Monteagle, a brother-in-law of Tresham, on Oct. 26, urging him not to attend Parliament on the opening day. 
Nov 4th, a "John Johnson" (Guy Fawkes) was arrested. Far from denying what he was doing, Fawkes said openly that he wanted to destroy the King and Parliament. They searched his pocket and found fuses and kindling. The show trial of the conspirators took place in Westminster Hall, Sir Edward Coke, Attorney-General, prosecuting for the King. The King indeed observed the trial from a secret hiding place. All were condemned. 
27th of January 1606, the trial of the eight surviving conspirators began. None denied the charge of treason, and all were condemned to be executed. On Thursday the 30th of January, Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant and Thomas Bates were executed in St. Paul's Churchyard. The following day, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keyes and Guy Fawkes were executed in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster. All eight men were hanged, drawn and quartered as was customary for traitors. Those who died at Holbeche were exhumed, and their heads removed to be displayed on pikes. Father Henry Garnet was executed on the 3rd of May 1606. 
While the plot was the work of a small number of men, it provoked hostility against all English Catholics and led to an increase in the harshness of laws against them. Guy Fawkes Day, Nov. 5, is still celebrated in England with fireworks and bonfires, on which effigies of the conspirator are burned. 
The celebrating of "Bonfire" or "Guy Fawkes Night" is well established in England. These days it is an excuse to let off fireworks and have a good time. Its origins are all but forgotten, although everyone knows of Guy Fawkes and the rough outline of the story
The tradition also crossed the Atlantic, though how widely it is still celebrated I do not know. New Zealand observes it still and parts of Nova Scotia. A correspondent affirms the celebration of "Pope's Day" formerly in parts of the US, though it seems that Hallowe'en has displaced any such celebration these days. 
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