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Happy Guy Fawkes Night


Ten years ago today, when I was still single, I threw a party for about 20 of my friends in my studio apartment. It was November 5th, 1999. On a shoestring budget, I had an assortment of sausage rolls and poppadoms available for people to eat and plenty of bottles of beer to wash the food down.

Then the big announcement came. I told everyone that they were there to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, a traditional British celebration held every November 5th. I explained how it marked the downfall of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, in London.

However, there was a big problem. No one believed me. Not one single person. They all thought I had made it up. And they all thought that “Guy Fawkes” was slang for “Guy F**ks.”

I’ll never forget the night especially because it was the first time that a girl named Debbie, who I had met on an indoor soccer field a few weeks prior, and I dated. She is now my wife and we have three wonderful children.

From growing up in Wales until aged 14, I vividly remembered that Guy Fawkes Night was a big deal. Every November 5th night, the entire town would gather in one field and stand around a burning effigy of Guy Fawkes that sat on top of piles of wood that towered above us as we all stood and ate and drank around it. There were some fireworks too. We celebrated Halloween but it was a much less important and less celebrated holiday where I grew up. Guy Fawkes was it. Seeing a burning effigy of a man made out of straw and paper mache leaves quite a vivid impression on a young child.

Sadly when I moved to the States, my family never celebrated Guy Fawkes again until I had the one-off party in 1999. Again, no one believed me but they still remember that fun party and the crazy story that “I made up.”

Wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful Guy Fawkes night. And feel free to post your memories of the day below.

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  1. Not a Family Guy

    November 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Thank god for V for Vendetta.

    When I mentioned that film, pretty much everyone had seen it. So I was then able to say that it’s based on Guy Fawkes and the Gun Powder Plot, and people became more interested in Guy Fawkes etc.

  2. courtney

    November 4, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    hey if you wanna see a bonnfire yu should come to the mighty east belfast northern ireland on the 11th of july you tube it then to top it off the glorious 12th with loads of flute bands amazing makes you fell realy proud to be a prod (protestant) over n out
    …….for god and ulster…….

  3. lu

    November 10, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Here we’re going for it this year – a few days late, but we’re having fireworks, sausages, baked potatoes etc. all in a bid to let the kids in on a bit of Brit fun, and us enjoy some beers.


    p.s. there’s nothing minor about fireworks night!

  4. CE

    November 9, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    let me see if i understand this

    you are surprised that a ENGLISH holiday is not known in the US?
    Next thing you will tell me is you are surprised that the Japanese don’t know much about Minor American Holidays

    Also Gaz-Canada has Boxing Day

  5. Steven Compton

    November 5, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    My son is visiting England and celebrated Guy Fawkes night earlier today with some gracious hosts from Banbury.

    We visited England this summer for the first time and had a blast.

    Take care and Happy Guy Fawkes Night!


  6. Alex Caulfield

    November 5, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    You’re not alone in this one Gaffer, I have had several people look at me strangely today when I tried to explain the implications of November 5th. Even in Seattle, as city stuffed with English expats, Guy Fawkes is less known than Guy Ritchie.

  7. ovalball

    November 5, 2009 at 4:27 pm


    Always glad to have one of your “Why not?” posts. They keep things interesting.

    Guy Robert (no holiday, yet)

  8. Gaz

    November 5, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    My favorite holiday that isn’t celebrated over here is Boxing Day. It’s a good excuse to eat more food and drink more beer (and lots of football makes it extra special).

    • The Gaffer

      November 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

      I agree! And good news, this year Boxing Day is on a Saturday which means I’ll be able to celebrate it in style instead of it being on a weekday when I have to work.

      The Gaffer

  9. Matilda

    November 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Great story Gaffer!
    Did you ever read the Paddington Bear books? I seem to remember a funny Guy Fawkes story somewhere in there. Happy Guy Fawkes

    • The Gaffer

      November 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

      Yep, I read a bunch of Paddington Bear books when I was very young . But I’m not familiar with the one about Guy Fawkes!

      The Gaffer

    • Zola612

      November 5, 2009 at 1:39 pm

      Me and my daughter just read that one last night.
      It is a story called “Paddington and the Bonfire.” It is chapter 4 in our copy of “More About Paddington.”


      • Matilda

        November 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm

        I’m so glad people still read Paddington Bear! I was worried he was dying out

        • Paul Bestall

          November 5, 2009 at 2:15 pm

          He was embroiled in a scandal last year when Marmite used him in an advert.

  10. Marc

    November 5, 2009 at 11:43 am

    “Remember, remember the fifth of November,
    The gunpowder treason and plot,
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.”
    Never heard of Guy Fawkes until I read V for Vendetta 8 years ago or so. Its amazing on how much I was never taught in High School or College. What a waste of time that was.

    • Dave

      November 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

      Indeed. The success of the V for Vendetta film probably did more to promote Guy Fawkes night than anything else in America. (I read the book first, too. Alan Moore does good work.)

      • Paul Bestall

        November 5, 2009 at 2:14 pm

        Alan Moore is a genius, Watchmen changed my life when i read it back in 87!

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