Guy Fawkes Night

Tonight, the people of New Zealand are celebrating Guy Fawkes, a holiday I’ll never quite understand. Technically it’s not until tomorrow night, but there have been heaps of fireworks and crackers going off tonight in my suburb.

For a few days before this date, stores across New Zealand sell fireworks packages… I don’t think they’re allowed to sell them legally at any other time during the year.  They come in various sizes, with the bigger ones costing up to a couple hundred dollars.  And people buy these! And the fireworks aren’t even that great, in my opinion.  I’d much rather go see a professional fireworks show.

Unfortunately, and I know this is going to sound horrible on my part, I can’t even be bothered properly explaining it for anyone in the US!  Click that link up there and read it if you can without falling asleep.

It’s all very confusing, depending on how far into that wiki article you read — but it seems everyone is in agreement that it stems from the failed Gun Powder Plot of 1605, which was an assassination attempt on Protestant King James I of England.

Some historians say it serves as a “Protestant replacement for the ancient Celtic and Nordic festivals of Samhain, pagan events that the church absorbed and transformed into All Hallow’s Eve and All Souls’ Day.”  I don’t really see how Samhain would tie in with fireworks? Bit of a stretch to me!

It just seems like another excuse to drink for New Zealand (as if we need another one of those), and to set off noisy fireworks that scare the crap out of animals in the area.  Luckily I managed to get Winters and Moose inside for the night before they started.

I can’t help but wonder how many dogs are going to spend tonight and tomorrow night highly distressed at the loud sounds happening and how many cats are going to spend this weekend’s evenings hiding from the world.

Do any of you celebrate Guy Fawkes Night?  I swear I won’t hold it against you.  :P

Image source: Erin Silversmith


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emma
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 00:58:38

    Being a Brit, I’ve grown up with Guy Fawkes. Basically… it’s a celebration of foiling a gun plot, by having explosions anyway? Fireworks here would go hand in hand with big bonfires where you burn the “Guy” – a scarecrow type thing which is meant to symbolise us burning Guy for his crimes? It’s all a bit strange; and my mother especially has jumped onto the “We don’t like this because it terrifies animals” bandwagon recently.


    • gwen
      Nov 05, 2011 @ 23:45:38

      It IS strange, but there are stranger holidays, I guess! I’m all for professional fireworks shows that are scheduled so folks with anxious pets can be prepared, but not so much on neighbors going crazy with them!


  2. aprilvak
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 04:59:29

    My husband informed me that we’re watching V for Vendetta tomorrow, but no fireworks. Can’t have any of those here until New Year’s Eve. I used to enjoy little fireworks as long as someone else lit them, but since we now live a block from the Holiday Store on one side and half a block from where they set up a fireworks tent on the other, I am no longer quite so enthusiastic. Surely there should be some kind of regulation about lighting them so close to a big pile of other explosives, but it doesn’t seem so.


  3. Lurking N3k0
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 13:48:36

    I’m Canadian, and for the most part we don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes night. I grew up, however, in Newfoundland — and there, they do. :) They call it Bonfire night, because they … burn bonfires. Lots of ’em. :P They don’t so much with the effigies, but those crazy newfies sure like to burn them some stuff. ;)

    I also found this nice little article that pretty well sums things up. It also mentions that outside of Britain, Newfoundland and New Zealand are pretty much the only places that still celebrate. :)


  4. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden)
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 10:11:30

    I have never lived outside the United States or traveled to another continent, but as someone who majored in anthropology these kind of holidays fascinate me. And truly I don’t think it is any weirder than what Halloween (October 31) has become in the United States, with people decorating their lawns with fake headstones, witches, skeletons and things that make howling noises. We do enjoy bonfires here, but they are more connected with football games or New Years Eve.


    • gwen
      Nov 06, 2011 @ 10:43:03

      I guess I don’t see Halloween as being quite as weird, as I have pagan roots, so I actually understand the basis for all of these practices :) Celebrating the failed plot to blow something up just strikes me as really odd.


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