Guy Fawkes’ Day

In 1604, the King of England was James I and a Protestant. Many people did not like him because they were Catholics and wanted a Catholic king. A Catholic called Guy Fawkes, and his friends, had a plot (a kind of plan) to kill King James, and his government, when he opened Parliament in London on 5th November 1605.

They put thirty-six boxes of gunpowder in a room underneath the Houses of Parliament. They wanted to kill everyone at the same time.

But the plan did not work. One of Guy Fawkes’ friends wrote a note to someone about it. At about midnight on 4th November, the King’s soldiers found Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder. They sent him to prison but he did not want to give the names of his friends. They did terrible things to him for eight days until he said all their names.

Parliament decided that Guy Fawkes and the other plotters had to die. In January 1606, when people heard the news that the plotters were dead, they made many fires in the streets to celebrate. King James was alive and well!

Every year on 5th November, in most parts of Britain, people build a fire outside, with all the dead leaves and ols piedces of wood they do not want. The fire is called a bonfire. they make a dummy (called a “guy”) of Guy Fawkes, from old clothes.

Sometimes children carry the guy around the streets to show people. They say: “Penny for the guy”, and ask people for money for fireworks.

Some people have a bonfire with fireworks in their garden, but fireworks are expensive, so often people get together and have one big party in a park or a field. It is usually very cold in November, so they have hot food and drinks to keep warm.

Many children learn these old words about Guy Fawkes’ Day:

Remember, remember,

The fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

(Text from Seasons and Celebrations   -  OXFORD BOOKWORMS 2)

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