Bonfire Night

Posted on November 7, 2009. Filed under: public events |

On approaching Roundhay Park last night, the flames, billowing smoke and sparks of a massive fire surrounded by crowds of revellers seemed more cause for alarm than celebration – for Australians, a fire of this size especially so close to parkland, sends resounding alarm bells – Surely the merriment and casual abandonment with which young and old set off fireworks and danced amongst flames posed some kind of health and safety risk? Apparently not. The annual Bonfire Night celebration, I was told, has been scaled back for this reason, with merrymakers encouraged to attend local council and organised events rather than host their own. Though this didn’t stop those too excited to wait until the day setting off their firecrackers off each night of the week or our neighbours, who considered the bonfire night must indeed last the whole night, from vigorously celebrating into the early hours of the morning.

Being new to the whole Guy Fawkes, bonfire night concept, I vaguely thought it was a celebration of Fawkes bravado in attempting to blow up parliament; a semi-activist-inspired hero-worship akin to Aus


The massive bonfire at Roundhay Park for Guy Fawke's Night

tralians’ love for the famed bush ranger Ned Kelly. But I learnt that not only is it a celebration of the foiled plot and the subsequent deaths and arrests of the Catholic villains, but a celebration of burning ‘guys’. Guy Fawkes effigies have historically been placed into the huge bonfires which litter the country on the 5th of November. Though the effigies are not as widely used these days, the glee and gusto in which everyone takes part in this event is slightly unnerving. There is something lovely, though, about the universal enthusiasm for this day – the chaos on bus lines and traffic jams around the country as families packed in and rugged-up set off to attend the closest event, bellies full of roast potatoes, Parkin, mulled wine and toffee.

I can’t wait for next year.


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