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Guy Fawkes Night

"Don't you Remember,
The Fifth of November,
'Twas Gunpowder Treason Day,
I let off my gun,
And made'em all run.
And Stole all their Bonfire away. "

~ Traditional, 1742

It's Gunpowder Day and Bonfire Night! Celebrated to mark the events of November 5th, 1605, Guy Fawkes Night is named for one of the members of the foiled Gunpowder Plot, who was arrested while guarding explosives that the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords! To celebrate this thwarted plot against King James I and his government, bonfires were lit around London, a fiery tradition which continues in many parts of the world today. Despite its sinister origins, Bonfire Night is a greatly anticipated community celebration, with fireworks and bonfires which often include the burning effigy of a "Guy" - a figure made with a jacket and trousers stuffed with straw. The Guy is traditionally wheeled around the town with calls of “Penny for the Guy!” and the money collected used for the fireworks. The Guy is then placed on top of the bonfire, sometimes with added explosives! Other less flammable traditions include making some traditional claggum (sweet) or clack (not so sweet), the black treacle (molasses) toffee also known as bonfire toffee, treacle toffee, plot toffee, and Tom Trot! A Penny for the Guy! 🔥🎆

Happy Guy Fawkes Night!

Designed by Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan suggests the bright bursts of fireworks against a dark sky.

Also known as Bonfire Night,Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and VI of Scotland and replace him with a Catholic head of state.

Within a few decades, Gunpowder Treason Day, as it was then known, became the predominant English state commemoration, but as it carried strong religious overtones it also became a focus for anti-Catholic sentiment. Puritans delivered sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures during raucous celebrations.

Gunpowder Treason Day was exported by settlers to colonies around the world, including members of the Commonwealth of Nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and various Caribbean nations.  The day is still marked in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

In North America the commemoration was at first paid scant attention, but the arrest of two boys caught lighting bonfires on 5 November 1662 in Boston suggests to historians that an underground tradition of commemorating the "Fifth of November" still existed.  In parts of North America it was known as Pope Day, celebrated mainly in colonial New England, but also as far south as Charleston.

In the late 18th century, effigies of prominent figures such as two Prime Ministers of Great Britain, the Earl of Bute and Lord North, and the American traitor General Benedict Arnold, were also burnt!

The tradition continued in Salem as late as 1817 and was still observed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, by 1892.  

Bonfire toffee (also known as treacle toffee, Plot toffee, or Tom Trot) is a hard, brittle toffee associated with both Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Night in the United Kingdom. 

In Scotland, the treat is known as claggum, with less sweet versions known as clack.

In Wales, it is known as loshin du or taffi triog, with a flavour similar to butterscotch.

For a classic recipe for plot toffee, click the fireworks!

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