Fireworks & Bonfire Night
Come November, people all over the UK will be lighting bonfires, attending torch processions and enjoying firework displays. And, let’s not forget the sparklers and toffee apples! This is all in celebration of ‘Bonfire Night’ which is officially 5th November.
Some of us might host our own small fireworks party in our gardens at home, while some cities, towns and villages often have larger organised displays with bonfires, fun fairs and entertainment for all.
It is a great opportunity for getting together with friends and family, but there is actually a historical reason for this celebration. The reason we do it is because it is the anniversary of an attempt to blow up the House of Parliament, commonly known as the ‘Gunpowder Plot’.
When bonfires are lit to mark this occasion, traditionally there will be a ‘Guy’ on top of the bonfire. This is usually a large dummy man, or doll, that represents a man who was an important member of the Gunpowder Plot itself, named Guy Fawkes. Back in 1605, Guy (Guido) Fawkes wanted to blow up King James I and his government. This was because of religion. The plotters were Catholic but England was a Protestant country at the time. They believed England would be Catholic again if they were to kill off the King and his ministers.
So, Fawkes and his crew put 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars underneath the House of Parliament in London, all ready to set off a massive explosion. However, one member of Fawkes’ crew sent a letter to a friend who worked in parliament warning him to stay awake on 5th November. The King’s supporters got hold of the letter and the plot was foiled! Guards found the gunpowder plotters waiting in the cellars, and they were then arrested and executed.
During World War I & World War II no one was allowed to set off any fireworks or light bonfires.
Sparklers are often used at Bonfire Night parties, but can get incredibly hot! Some sparklers can reach temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius! That’s around 15 times hotter than boiling water, and can be very dangerous.
Firework rockets can reach speeds of 150mph when they are set off!
The reason you can see a firework explode before you hear the bang, is because light travels much faster than sound.
The very first Firework display in England took place at Henry VII’s wedding to Elizabeth of York in 1486. This wedding was a big deal as it united two families, the Lancaster’s and the York’s who had been fighting for many years.