Today’s comic highlights the origins of Bonfire Night!
“Upstairs to the Houses of Parliament”
– Sign in the tunnel
“Planning a night to remember? Looks like it’s going to go with a bang!”
– Man dressed in red (a Guard) speaking to Guy Fawkes
What is Bonfire Night?
Bonfire Night is an annual celebration dedicated to bonfires and fireworks. It is celebrated in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries (the former British Empire) and parts of the United States. The event takes place on the night of November the 5th.
Similar bonfire and firework traditions also exist in other European cultures and countries.
Who is Guy Fawkes?
The origins of Bonfire Night are closely tied in remembrance to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
The population of England and Britain as a whole is majority Christian. From the 1500s – 1600s Europe experienced a lot of wars and upheaval that were related to religion. Western Europe had been Catholic but starting in the early 1500s there was a split in Christian worship and the Protestant faiths of Christianity began. Populations and whole countries were very divided over their religious beliefs.
In the 1500s, England (today part of the United Kingdom) became a Protestant country and Catholics were not treated well. However there were still many English Catholics. Originally the ruler had promised religious tolerance but this was never a reality.
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an attempt by a group of English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King of England and Scotland, King James I (known as King James VI in Scotland). The plan was to blow up Parliament, Westminster, with gunpowder during the state opening of Parliament which was to take place on November 5th. By killing the Protestant King, Catholics hoped to put a Catholic monarch on the English throne.
The Plot was discovered in late October and stopped. Guards found a man named Guy Fawkes, a member of the Plot, guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of Parliament at midnight on November 4th.
By 1607 celebrations started occurring across Britain to mark November 5th. Communities would light giant bonfires and burn effigies, giant doll models of whoever they wanted to represent, of Guy Fawkes.
Because Guy Fawkes is the most famous member of the Gunpowder Plot, Bonfire Night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night.
Note: The name Guy Fawkes is pronounced like “Guy Fox”.
For more information on Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, read here.
Today, the symbol of Guy Fawkes is used as a political and social representation by groups that feel that they are being treated unfairly. You are probably aware of the mask that represents Guy Fawkes even if you do not know who he is.
Why is this comic funny?
This comic references that if the Gunpowder Plot had happened as planned, November 5th would be a night to really remember! The guard has caught Guy Fawkes!
Moreover, to say that November 5th would have been a night with a big bang has a double meaning. The use of the word “bang” in this comic is a homograph. Homographs are words that are spelled the same, sometimes also pronounced the same, but have a different meaning.
Bang means a loud noise, something an explosion would create, and it is also used as a word to reference something memorable. November the 5th could have literally been a night of a memorable big bang!
Happy Bonfire Night!