Thursday, 5 November 2015

#BEDN - Bonfire Night

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

As a child my family celebrated Bonfire Night rather than Halloween.
Halloween was just the day before Mum's birthday and there were no skeletons, pumpkins or trick and treating back then.

We had a bonfire in our back garden, under the horse chestnut tree. That poor tree got singed every November! How we didn't start a tree fire I'll never know but all of us and the tree survived many bonfires together. We'd start building the bonfire about a week before the fifth, gathering sticks and twigs from around the neighbourhood and adding anything from the house that was burnable rubbish. My sister and I always wanted to do jacket potatoes in the fire but they were never successful. Luckily Mum always had some in the oven which we wolfed down with lashings of butter and cheese.

Dad was in charge of the fireworks. They were kept in an old tin box which only came out for Bonfire Night - I have no idea where it was the rest of the year, possibly in the cellar. There was a half buried milk bottle to launch the rockets, a hammer and tacks to nail the Catherine Wheels to the fence, a carefully cleared patch of ground to pop the Roman Candles in.

Mum and me were a bit scared (OK I was a lot scared!) of the fireworks so we'd stay in the house with the pets while Dad and my sister set the fireworks off in the garden. I remember hearing her squeal as the bangers fizzed across the yard; I probably squealed as well from the safety of the sitting room.     

We'd enjoy jacket potatoes, cake and hot chocolate as the evening wore on, everyone standing round the bonfire. I can still smell the woodsmoke that clung to out clothes and hair until we were scrubbed clean in the bath before bed.

Later when I had my son we would go to organised displays as I was far too nervous to have fireworks in the garden. We went to the display at the church hall with lots of friends from toddlers group and church. There were lots of fireworks, far more than we would have had at home; we had jacket potatoes again, they must be a staple food of Bonfire Night! I remember there being wine and beer for the adults and soft drinks for the children, lots of laugher and fun with good friends. I also remember thinking how odd it was to be at a church event 'celebrating' the capture and execution of Gut Fawkes, not very Christian in my opinion!

I'm a firm believer in people knowing about the history and culture of our country and Bonfire Night is a part of that. It saddens me that some children don't know what Bonfire Night is all about, thinking it's just about having some fireworks and a party, almost an extension of Halloween.

So today I hope everyone has a great, fun time with their families, enjoys some yummy Bonfire Night treats and stays safe.      

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