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Today, November 5th is Guy Fawkes Night. It is an annual celebration of the night that Guy Fawkes and a group of others, known as the Gunpowder Plot of 5, attempted to blow up the English Parliament. It is celebrated in England, Newfoundland, the British Caribbean, New Zealand and South Africa.

The celebrations include fireworks and bonfires. We have some very good friends from England who recount stories of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations which include lighting barrels of oil on fire and carrying them through the streets, sounds like a far more dangerous “running of the bulls” type tradition.

In Ottery St Mary, in Devon, burning barrels of tar are carried through the streets:

“Ottery St. Mary is internationally renowned for its tar barrels, an old custom said to have originated in the 17th century, and which is held on November 5th each year. Each of Ottery’s central public houses sponsors a single barrel. In the weeks prior to the day of the event, November 5th, the barrels are soaked with tar. The barrels are lit outside each of the pubs in turn and once the flames begin to pour out, they are hoisted up onto local people’s backs and shoulders. The streets and alleys around the pubs are packed with people, all eager to feel the lick of the barrels flame. Seventeen Barrels all in all are lit over the course of the evening. In the afternoon and early evening there are women’s and boy’s barrels, but as the evening progresses the barrels get larger and by midnight they weigh at least 30 kilos. A great sense of camaraderie exists between the ‘Barrel Rollers’, despite the fact that they tussle constantly for supremacy of the barrel. In most cases, generations of the same family carry the barrels and take great pride in doing so. … Opinion differs as to the origin of this festival of fire, but the most widely accepted version is that it began as a pagan ritual that cleanses the streets of evil.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Our friends who live in Ottery St. Mary have often told us that coming for Guy Fawkes Night there would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While I don’t know if we will ever make it there for the burning barrels, being a part of such a longstanding tradition would be rather interesting.

As coincidence would have it, we are having a bonfire here at the Ts tomorrow night. (So, we’re a little late for Guy Fawkes, but what the heck-actually we just have a huge brush pile to burn and figured we’d plan a party around that). We planned on a bonfire with munchies and hot cocoa for the boys and some of their friends. I am however perfectly certain that there will be no lighted barrels of tar and children carrying them, running through our yard.

The traditional foods served in England for Guy Fawkes Night celebrations include:

  • Jacket potatoes or as we call them here, baked potatoes wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals of the bonfire;
  • potato pie with pickled cabbage (now tell me the boys wouldn’t just love that! – and I would be evicted from motherhood duties forever as they died of embarrassment)
  • groaty pudding (I am sure another teenage boy favorite)
  • toffee apples

Our, much more non-traditional bonfire menu will include:

  • chili
  • nachos
  • tacos
  • chips and dips

The Ts’ version is more of a “Guy Fawkes meets Juan Valdez”.

Happy Guy Fawkes Night to you all!

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