It’s nigh unto Guy Fawkes Day and Iain’s Library apprentices got the jones to put on a full-blown celebration, which The Steward agreed to fund, provided that Iain gave them a full lesson on what Guy Fawkes Day really means in the United Kingdom, historically and currently, including how Halloween has now largely replaced it.
Many Catholics takes offence at the burning of an effigy of the Pope that takes place at Lewes Bonfire in Sussex on this day – which makes perfect sense. Of course, Guy himself was a Catholic, so many, many Protestants in England assumed, rightly or wrongly, that the Catholic Church was behind the attack on Parliament. (Iain says a fellow Librarian uses the pejorative ‘Fucking papists’ when referring to the Church.) Soon thereafter they developed this celebration, which featured burning effigies of Guy and the Pope. And lots of fireworks.
Revisionist historians ofttimes claim that that there was no conspiracy to blow up Parliament but rather Guy and his fellow conspirators were framed by the Government to stir up anti-Catholic hatred. That might be true, might not be true. What’s true is that there’s no definitive way now to tell what happened so long ago.
Now mind you, most folks more commonly call it Bonfire or Firework Night so they’re in it for the drinking, the bonfires, and the rather drunken singing of such songs as ‘Devil and the Washerwomen’, ‘Remember the Fifth of November’, and ‘Guy Fawkes Prince of Sinister’.
Iain pointed out to them that Guy had denounced Scotland and the King’s favourites among the Scottish nobles, so it wasn’t surprising that the Scots are enthusiastic celebrants of the Fifth of November. Not that the good Presbyterians of Scotland needed much of an excuse to hate the Pope. And many, like a bookseller I was chatting with one time in Aberdeen, are openly anti-papist even now.
Our Brewmaster’s devised an ale similar to what was called mild ale, which is a beer with a decidedly malty palate that originated in Britain in the 17th century or earlier. And Mrs. Ware is having her staff making food that would’ve been served by a late 17th century Pub.
So hopefully you can fly back here for the week-long celebration from All Hallows Eve through Samhain and now Guy Fawkes Day. Should make for an interesting week!