Thursday, 28 November 2013

Bonfire Night

This is an odd festival. I do enjoy it but you don't have to scratch the surface too deeply to realise that it is a fervent anti-Catholic celebration. Who wants to celebrate that? But I do enjoy what this event has become and that is why I titled this post as bonfire night, not Guy Fawkes night.

It's origins are literally that people lit bonfires to celebrate that King James I survived a plot, the 'Observance of 5th November Act' made it an annual public holiday that became known as Gunpowder Treason Day. It developed with people burning effigies of popular hate figures, I can even remember making a 'Guy' as a child to place on the bonfire. Whilst I am all for keeping old traditions alive this is one that I'm happy not to pass on to my children for whilst it was fun I do not like the symbolism.
Our own bonfire
Instinctively I feel that this event must have been a replacement for another, much older, festival. A bit like the Christians grabbing all of the pagan celebrations and spin-doctoring them. But apparently this is unlikely to be the case though it may have absorbed some old Halloween customs. But what is true is that this is the time of year for clearing vegetation and burning it on a bonfire is usually the only sensible way to clear it. Folk traditions of celebratory bonfires this time of year just make good solid sense.

What do we do? Bonfire night has always been a big thing for us. As my eldest is an early November baby we have always seen Bonfire night as part of his birthday celebrations. I can remember holding him in hospital, as a newborn, looking out of the windows watching the fireworks every night. We don't do fireworks at home. We have done in the past but having experienced a small rocket shooting off in the wrong direction and exploding under a car I don't fancy ever doing this again! (Nothing serious happened but it was a reminder of how uncontrollable fireworks can be.) We like to attend a local event bringing with us a flask of hot chocolate and a few snacks. We're usually the 'odd' family comfortably settled down on a blanket or tarp. I've found that a little bit of planning here can make the whole experience more comfortable and enjoyable for all of us. It also serves as a great time to review our woollies ready to get us through the coming winter.

Okay, so this post is very late! But I'm still posting as it is part of my record of the festivals that my family chooses to celebrate throughout the year.

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