Every year on 5 November people in Great Britain celebrate Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. Anyone living and working in Great Britain should be aware of this tradition as it can be a great opportunity to experience local culture and socialise with friends and family. Understanding British customs and traditions can also help you to more effectively integrate into British society and establish better working relationships with your British counterparts.
So what is Bonfire Night and how is it celebrated? Bonfire Night commemorates the events of 5 November 1605 which are sometimes also referred to as the Gunpowder Plot. The protagonist of these events was a man called Guy Fawkes who was part of a group of English Catholics who were unhappy with the protestant King. Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby and a group of other Catholics started plotting the King’s assassination.
On the night of 5 November the conspirators attempted to kill the King by placing some explosives under the House of Lords. Their aim was to kill the King as well as many other members of the monarchy and government. One of the most active participants in this murder attempt was Guy Fawkes who was responsible for guarding the explosives in a cellar under the House of Lords. The plan was foiled and Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellar. After being tortured for several days, he confessed and was then executed.
On that same night in 1605 people set bonfires alight to celebrate the King’s survival. This tradition has been respected ever since and people all over Great Britain and in some Commonwealth nations like New Zealand and Australia celebrate this day with bonfires and fireworks. In addition to bonfires and fireworks, some will make “guys” – effigies of Guy Fawkes made out of old clothes and newspapers that will then be burnt in the bonfires.
Another tradition observed on this day is the State Opening of Parliament. Ever since these events of 1605, the King or Queen will traditionally only enter Parliament once a year on 5 November. Before the event, the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are inspected by the Yeomen of the Guard to assure the monarch’s safety and commemorate and celebrate the historical event.
Being aware of traditions and customs like this can help anyone living and working in Great Britain to understand the culture. Attending a cross cultural training programme like Living and Working in Great Britain will provide you with all the information you need about British customs and traditions like Bonfire Night as well as other useful information on British social and business culture.
So if you are living and working in Great Britain be sure to take part in one of the events going on in London or other cities in Great Britain this weekend.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011