Why Remember the Fifth of November?

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Remember, remember!

The fifth of November,

    The Gunpowder treason and plot;

    I know of no reason

    Why the Gunpowder treason

    Should ever be forgot!


On Erasmus, I remember telling my friends all about the excitement of bonfire night. They could not comprehend that we should wish to celebrate an occasion when a man attempted to blow up parliament. The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder why we did as well.

It dates back to The Gun Powder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested for guarding explosive barrels beneath the House of Lords. The reason the people celebrate it, is to rejoice in the failed attempt on King James I’s life. It was originally named Gun Powder Treason Day, and adopted the name Guy Fawkes Day as a result of children begging for money, with Guy Fawkes effigies towards the end of the 18th century (this is probably where the idea of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire came from). It even went through a period of violent anti-Catholic confrontations during the 19th Century before becoming the socially, enjoyable commemoration that we know today.

In modern day, the nights surrounding the fifth of November are filled with the explosions of the fireworks: something so simple and dangerous made into something beautiful. It’s possibly the only noise that Loughborough can stand after the loudness of students.

It’s the cold air, wrapped up warm in your winter cloths, the smell of the burning as the smoky air surrounds you in a mist of delight; the way the sparks slowly rain down in the dark sky after the bright explosion. It’s the thrill that makes you feel like a child again.

The event makes the autumn coldness bearable; it’s a landmark to look forward to, where communities come together. The Rag night this past Saturday definitely lived up to such expectations. The entry was six pounds, but it goes to charity and the set is longer than your cheap ones in the back garden of your local.

Personally, nothing will match my first Rag bonfire night two years ago, where a compilation of fireworks and lasers were presented along to The Who’s Baba O’riley. However, this year, was not a let-down. The songs this year comprised Elle Goulding’s Anything could happen (which added to the eager anticipation of the crowd), The Circle of Life, and Take That’s Patience; the finale was hilarious with the Warner Brother’s Theme tune, quoting ‘That’s all folks’. This provided a magnificent conclusion to the spectacular display in which the audience duly expressed their appreciation.

Apart from the explosive finale, in which it seemed they had every kind of firework that left everyone stunned in amazement, the timing was remarkable. The pause before a golden shower to the ultimate chorus of Patience definitely increased my respect of the people behind the display. You must wonder how many people it takes and how they choreograph and practise it all, something people take for granted.

To add to the atmosphere, there were your usual hot food stalls, from the classic burgers and candy floss stalls to hot chocolate and roasted chestnut stands. Like everything, the fair rides have become more expensive, but there was still the chance to win a fish at hook-a-duck: a game you never grow tired of no matter how old you get!

The crowds did rush to leave as soon as the display was over, but the night started young for most families. One thing is for sure: everyone left happily. It’s nice to keep up a tradition and turn something that could have been fatal into a celebration and appreciation that we can still enjoy four centuries later.

Emma Spencer

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