Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember the Guy

Guy Fawkes I admit it: I like the strange, uncelebrated and unsung holidays. For years I kept the traditional winter holidays to a minimum, only to have a big to-do every Groundhog Day. Independence Day celebrations are usually quiet, while Bastille Day gets more attention. After living in the British Commonwealth of Nations for a couple of years, I became enamoured with Boxing Day.

So it should be no surprise that I'm wishing you all a fiery Guy Fawkes Day, also known in Great Britain as Bonfire Night. It commemorates a failed plot in 1605 to blow up the English Parliament and depose King James I. Guy Fawkes, one if the conspirators, was caught and executed. Bonfires, fireworks, and effigies of Guy are burned on the evening of November 5th all over Britain.

While other holidays have gotten more press time, Guy Fawkes has inspired some interesting books and one movie. For a straight history, there's Antonia Fraser's Faith and treason: the story of the Gunpowder Plot. If you like mysteries, Carola Dunn's Gunpowder plot: a Daisy Dalrymple mystery uses a Guy Fawkes celebration as its setting. Graphic novelist Alan Moore was born on November 5th, and Guy Fawkes Day plays a major role in his well-known V for Vendetta, which was made into a movie by the folks who brought you The Matrix. He has also written a novel without pictures, Voice of the Fire, which traces November 5th in Manchester, England, from prehistoric times to the present.

So if you are looking for something out of the ordinary to commemorate, just start chanting "Remember, remember, the Fifth of November..."

Gunpowder PlotFaith and TreasonV for VendettaVoice of the Fire

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