What is Guy Fawkes Day, and how is it Celebrated?
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have probably heard of Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night. For people living outside of the UK, it may not be something they are familiar with. What exactly was the Gunpowder Plot, and why did it fail?
This guide provides you with a brief historical perspective and five fun ways you can celebrate the event with your friends and family. Fun things to do with the kids are always important when celebrating Guy Fawkes Night. We have also thrown in four historical landmarks you can visit in person to learn more about Guy Fawkes and his subsequent arrest.
Historical Perspective of Bonfire Night
Let's learn about who Guy Fawkes is, why he wanted to blow up Parliament, and his goal of assassinating King James I. The Gunpowder Plot refers to blowing up Parliament as Fawkes was found hiding in the cellars of the House of Lords, with cases of gunpowder and a fuse. But let’s back up for a minute.
Who was Guy Fawkes, and why did he want to do this? Well, he was a Catholic in a mostly Protestant country, and during this time, Catholics were not liked due to their rebellions and plots to overthrow the monarchy. As such, many of them practised their religion secretly.
Fawkes was a proud Catholic, and during his early years, he even participated in the Eight Years' War, where he fought for Spain. He, along with other Catholics, wanted to practice their faith freely and without persecution. When James IV of Scotland became King of England, it was hoped that they could finally have a monarch who supported their religious values, particularly since Mary, Queen of Scots – the King’s mother – was a Catholic.
Unfortunately for Fawkes and his Catholic friends, this did not prove to be the case, so they conspired to blow up the Parliament on opening day on November 5, hoping to kill James I along with his son and mother. They wanted to crown the King's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, but were caught before they could carry out their sinister act. He was imprisoned and then hanged subsequently.
5 Ways to Celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with Your Children
Enjoying Bonfire Night with your children and loved ones is a great way to learn more about the Gunpowder Plot. Here are five ways to make the historical day a fun and interactive learning experience that your children will enjoy.
1. Read Together
Reading child-friendly books with your kids is a great way to learn more about the Gunpowder Plot and its failure. To educate yourself, you can also check out some adult reads that will give you some historical perspective and reference so you can answer any questions your children may have. It is essential to select child-friendly books as many of the events surrounding the capture of Guy Fawkes and subsequent imprisonment may not be appropriate for young ears.
2. Buy Sparklers
If your children are too young to enjoy a book about Guy Fawkes Day, then why not purchase some sparklers and have some fun walking around the neighbourhood? You can take a stroll afterwards after sunset to enjoy any fireworks that may be taking place nearby. Kids love fireworks, and you can, in an age-appropriate way, also go into detail about what Guy Fawkes Night signifies.
3. Host a Bonfire Party
Why not invite some neighbours and friends over and host a bonfire night that the kids will enjoy? You can roast some marshmallows and have fun treats the kids can help make. Go a step further and make some Guy Fawkes-themed treats that the younger ones will love making themselves. You can also have a campfire storytime session where kids can take turns telling spooky stories.
4. Hold a Historical Guy Fawkes Day Quiz
Holding a quiz is the perfect way to learn more about the origin of Bonfire Night and also educate the kids in a fun way. Make question-and-answer cards that are age-appropriate for your children, and choose a prize for the contestant that gets the most fitting answers. The kids can read up on the history of Guy Fawkes Night before the quiz so they can learn more about it.
5. Watch a Documentary on the Origin of Bonfire Night
Why not watch an age-appropriate documentary about what exactly was Guy Fawkes's motives and intentions that led to the failed Gunpowder Night? It will be interesting to see different viewpoints and learn more about this historical event. Children will be more inclined to know if it is presented as a movie night where you can invite friends and family. Remember the popcorn!
Places to visit to learn more about the Gunpowder Plot
If you are looking for ways to learn more about Bonfire Night and some of the events leading up to November 5, physically going to these locations is a great way to immerse yourself in history.
It can become a fun-filled day trip that the children will enjoy because they can see firsthand where Guy Fawkes was held as a prisoner and participate in an immersive experience at the Tower of London.
Here are some recommended sites to take family and friends:
- The Tower of London
- Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
- Torture at the Tower Exhibit
- The Guy Fawkes Inn, North Yorkshire
Learn More about Guy Fawkes Day
You can search online to learn more about Guy Fawkes Day and other events during this time by browsing through relevant sites. This site is incredibly informative and reliable and belongs to a charity that works to preserve historic places.
Here's hoping you have a fun-filled day and enjoy some of the activities listed above.
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