The history of Bonfire Night
Guy Fawkes Night, often called Bonfire or Firework Night, is an annual evening of fireworks and bonfires, loved by children and adults alike.
It marks the failure of the Gunpowder Plot on November 5 1605, when a group of embittered Catholic conspirators planned to blow up parliament and kill the Protestant King James I.
Although the plot was masterminded by Robert Catesby, and involved many other conspirators, Guy Fawkes is synonymous with the event as he was the one caught in the cellar below the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Effigies of Guy, wearing his distinctive tall black hat, are often burned on bonfires, whilst children try to part adults from their loose change citing ‘Penny for the Guy’
Most of the plotters were eventually captured, forced to confess, and hanged, drawn and quartered at the Tower of London as a lesson to others. Guy actually escaped this torturous fate by jumping to his death first.
Guy Fawkes Night is still celebrated today in recognition that had the Gunpowder Plot been successful, it would have changed the course of British history.
Most Brits grow up learning this simple Bonfire Night rhyme and you may hear people reciting the first line at one of the celebrations. The people who used to collect the wood for the bonfire (usually impoverished young children) would recite it as they worked to keep spirits up.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November!
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
How to keep your pets safe and calm on Bonfire Night
Bonfire Night and noisy and bright fireworks displays can be a frightening time for your pets and other animals.
Here’s our essential guide on how to keep your pets calm and happy during Bonfire Night.
How to keep dogs and cats happy during firework displays
Walk your dog before the fireworks are due to start, and do not take your dog to a fireworks display. Even if your dog appears calm around fireworks, watch out for the quieter signs of distress, such as heavy yawning or panting.
Always keep dogs and cats inside when you know fireworks will be let off, shutting doors and windows and locking cat flaps firmly shut. Make sure a cat litter tray is available.
You can prepare a safe ‘den’ for your pet in a quiet corner, or under a bed with soft bedding or possibly some of your old clothes which will smell familiar. You can introduce them to this well in advance of and they may like to hide quietly while the fireworks are on.
Muffle the sound of fireworks by drawing curtains, and leave a familiar radio or TV programme on to provide distraction from loud bangs.
Comfort your pet and let them express their distress or hide away if need be – do not get angry or try to coax them out of their hiding place as this will distress them further. Calm praise and cuddles may help to relax them.
The RSPCA and the Blue Cross advise pet owners to get veterinary help for their animal six to 12 weeks before the firework season begins. Vets also recommend using Sounds Scary to get your dog used to loud sounds. These purpose-made set of recordings come with a training guide and should be used in advance of fireworks night.
How to protect small pets
Small animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs are easily frightened and if possible any hutches should be brought indoors or into a shed. If they cannot be brought indoors you should cover the cage or hutch with blankets to block out as much noise as possible and provide extra cosy bedding to hide in. make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
How to keep horses, ponies and livestock calm
Communicate with neighbours and the organisers of local fireworks displays to inform them you have horses and livestock, and ensure fireworks are not set off nearby. Ideally, stay with your horse and remain calm and positive – horses will pick up on any worry. If you cannot stay with your horse, make sure that someone experienced is on hand to keep an eye out and help them stay relaxed.
If possible stick to the routine and environment your horse is familiar with so that they do not pick up on any disruption. However, if you know your horse has a bad reaction to loud sounds you could arrange to move your horse away from the fireworks for a night or two.
Keep lights on in barns and stables, and you could also try playing gentle music to muffle the sounds of fireworks, although this should be tried in advance so that the music is a familiar, comforting experience, and not alien to the horse.
Never go out for a ride while fireworks are on, and at all times be aware of your own safety in case your horse is distressed. The British Horse Society has more advice. www.bhs.org.uk
After the display has finished
Before you release your animals back outdoors, do a thorough check of the land to collect any sparklers, firecrackers, or broken firework debris, as well as party items and other litter.
Fireworks and the law
- It is illegal for anyone under 18 to possess a firework in a public place
- Fireworks cannot be set off by a private individual between 11.00pm and 7.00am except for certain nights of the year
- Under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals. The penalty on conviction is a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months’ imprisonment, or both. Enforcement of this section of the Act rests with Trading Standards, the Police or the RSPCA as appropriate.
- Unless retailers possess a special licence they may only sell fireworks from 15 October to 10 November and 26 to 31 December
Finally! Enjoy the celebrations and stay safe – you can download some vital safety guidelines and facts here – http://www.bonfire-night-safety.co.uk/