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Bonfire Night - What it is and how to celebrate it in Bristol

"Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot.

We see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot!"

(Nursery rhyme)

For many the first thing they think of when they hear the phrase “November 5th” is the famous film “V for Vendetta”. A comic-based dystopian production which tells the story of “V”, an anonymous rebel hero who plots against a corrupt and dictatorial regime that rules the UK, a country that, in the story, has become the world leader.

The comic is based on the true story of Guy Fawkes, a Catholic who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament as a protest against a corrupt king, James I, and its Protestant church. Catholics were prosecuted and many executed during the late 14th and 15th centuries; Fawkes’ attempt was aborted by the authorities and he was executed. Since then, the fifth of November celebrates the victory of the establishment over the rebels, contrarily to what the film promotes. The Guy Fawkes mask has been used and popularised by the hacker collective Anonymous as a symbol for freedom and protest.

Unsurprisingly, nowadays many people don’t know about this story and they just celebrate the date following the tradition. Even those who know, find it hard to say why they are actually celebrating for. Was Guy Fawkes a criminal or a hero? Do we celebrate the victory of the establishment or the life and death of a man who clearly went against it?

Regardless of the reason, bonfires are lit all over the country, mulled wine is drunk and toffee apples are eaten close to the warmth of the fire while the sky lights up with fireworks.

If you want a taste of a very British tradition, this is one not to be missed. In Bristol, you can head to many different places to get warm and make the most of the night. In the past, bonfires were lit in places such as Portland Square (around the corner from Spen Languages), The Mount (also known as Strawberry Hill) in St. Werburghs, Castle Park, Victoria Park, St. George and many other places.

Find your local bonfire and enjoy a bit of history brought to life.

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