Friday, November 2, 2012

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

The poem goes like this:

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

Guy Fawkes Night in Lewes
It's a huge celebration in England and in many of the former British colonies. People are out celebrating on the streets long into the night. There's a huge fireworks display. Schoolchildren prepare for weeks beforehand making effigies of Guy Fawkes and of the Pope. The celebration culminates with a huge bonfire in which the Popes and Guys are burned, and England is safe from popery for another year.
Burning the Pope

It all started (as you might have guessed) on the 5th of November, 1605, when Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellar of the House of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He and his co-conspirators intended to blow up the parliament, kill the King, the Prince of Wales, and members of Parliament, and bring an end to the persecution of English Catholics.

Instead, he was tortured and executed. Bonfires were lit that very night to celebrate the King's salvation--and they have been celebrating ever since.

What does Guy Fawkes Night have to do with dogs?

They are terrified by the fireworks, explosions, lights and noise. Every year a few of them get into serious trouble. And, as with our Independence Day celebrations, warnings go round to pet owners and suggestions as to how to keep their dogs safe.
Guy Fawkes Parade in Lewes

One of the worst incidents happened on November 5, 1950 in London, when 160 bonfires burned out of control. Children in the East End tried to cut the firemen's hoses to prevent them from dousing the flames, while officers from the RSPCA* tried to deal with 250 hysterical dogs running amok in the streets.

I'll be watching the news to see whether anything happens this year.

*Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals