What is Bonfire Night? How to Celebrate the British Tradition

We love to explore traditions from around the world here at Shisler’s Cheese House. Today we’re taking you over the pond to find out all about how the British celebrate Bonfire Night.

What is Bonfire Night?

The traditional phrase goes “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot”.

Bonfire Night, sometimes also known as Guy Fawkes’ Night, falls on November 5th, and celebrates the night that Guy Fawkes failed in his Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James I of England and VI of Scotland in 1605.

Guy Fawkes and a group of others tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London with barrels of gunpowder. They hid them in the basement of the building and Guy Fawkes was left to guard them but he was discovered before the plot could take place.

A year later in 1606 the Thanksgiving Act was passed stating that November 5th would be a day of celebration. Fireworks and bonfires were chosen as a suitable way to celebrate.

How is it celebrated?

Bonfires are often lit and fireworks display light up the night sky with bring colors.

Some people will put on displays at home but it is more common for families to go to large displays together with their community. There are sometimes fairground rides and food stalls for everyone to enjoy.

It used to be traditional to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire, but this has now ceased in many places. There are still some other traditional activities, however, such as in Ottery St Mary, Devon, where people chase each other through the streets with flaming tar barrels!

Which foods are enjoyed on Bonfire Night?

The night is all about enjoying cozy, warming foods that help you to enjoy the cold evening. Soups and baked potatoes are some of the most classic foods that everyone can enjoy together. Lots of sweet treats are on offer, especially caramel apples and crunchy toffee. Hot dogs and burgers are quick and easy to eat off the fire and you can sometimes find people enjoying toasted marshmallows.

What about drinks?

A hot apple cider is a brilliant Bonfire Night drink that keeps everyone warm, but hot chocolate is also a popular choice. Sometimes the adults will indulge in a glass of mulled (spiced) wine.

Have you ever celebrated a traditional Bonfire Night? Let us know in the comments!

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