5th November in Great Britain is Guy Fawkes Day, a commemoration of the day a group of Catholics, led by Guy Fawkes, plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the day King James 1st was opening a new session of Parliament. Whether they were terrorists or freedom fighters depends on which side you are on, but some of the men in the group were concerned about fellow Catholics who were members of Parliament, and one of them sent a letter to Lord Monteagle with the words: "retyre youre self into yowre contee whence yow maye expect the event in safti for ... they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament". Lord Monteagle showed the letter to King James, who ordered a search of the cellars beneath Parliament and so the plot was foiled.
An Act of Parliament designated each 5 November as a day of thanksgiving for "the joyful day of deliverance", and remained in force until 1859, although to this day 5th November has been “Firework Night”, with firework parties in parks and gardens all over Britain. The question must be raised as to whether these celebrations could be taken to be anti-Catholic. Guy Walters in his book “Religion” answers the question thus:
“I`m certain that most people who attend Guy Fawkes` Nights – which are, after all, more commonly just called Bonfire or Firework Nights – do not do so out of intolerance towards Roman Catholics, but simply to have a get-together and ooh and aah at a few fireworks. Yes, we should certainly remember our history and know why we do in fact commemorate the thwarting of an act of mass murder, but the passage of over four centuries has surely eradicated any sense of anti-Catholicism associated with the celebrations.”
The traditional Guy Fawkes poem, however, rather contradicts this:
Guy Fawkes Day Poem
Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
`Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God`s providence he was catch`d,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip Hoorah !
Hip hip Hoorah !
A penny loaf to feed ol`Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar,`
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we`ll say: ol`Pope is dead.
The accompanying video provides a tongue in cheek point of view of the whole affair...