Get to know Guy Fawkes - VIDEOS
blog by S.J. Velasquez • November 05, 2012 @ 9:08am
Happy Guy Fawkes Day!
If you’re still scratching your head over this lesser-known holiday, don’t fret. Many Americans are unsure of the holiday’s meaning an origin because, honestly, it’s not really an American holiday.
Nov. 5, known as Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night, is a celebration of a failed plot to blow up England’s Houses of Parliament. Fawkes was one of a dozen or so central members of a group that wanted to assassinate King James I of England, who was pushing Britain toward a national religion. Fawkes, a Catholic convert, protested the pushing of Protestantism on an entire nation.
So Fawkes, part of what is now known as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, went to the cellar of Parliament and waited for the signal to light up the compound with explosives. Unfortunately for him, he was found and captured.
In a letter penned by King James I on Nov. 6, he wrote of his plans for Fawkes:
“The gentler tortours are to be first used unto him, et sic per gradus ad mia tenditur [and so by degrees proceeding to the worst], and so God speed your goode worke.”
On Jan. 31 1606, Fawkes and his conspirators were takenn to the Old Palace Yard at Westminster where they were hanged, drawn and quartered.
To recognize the failed plot, many Britons light bonfires and set off fireworks as an ironic homage. They also burn Fawkes’ likeness in effigy.
In a 2011 post about Fawkes, I wrote the following:
“Fawkes, a villain to many and a hero to others, made his way into American pop culture with 2006’s “V for Vendetta,” featuring a mysterious masked man—and that mask is based on a popularized image of Guy Fawkes. More recently, Occupy Wall Street protestors have adopted Fawkes’ grinning face as their symbol. From Buffalo to Los Angeles, Fawkes’s mug is plastered everywhere.”
Photo courtesy of Flickr / Docklandsboy.