Remember, remember the 5th of November!

On this day, exactly 406 years ago—the arrest of Guy Fawkes, found during a search of the Palace of Westminster, foiled Robert Catesby’s plot to destroy the House of Lords and all within it.

The 5th of November is an annual commemoration observed, primarily in the UK as Guy Fawkes Night. I remember when I was in secondary school in the UK and learned for the first time about this, since moving from from Denmark; there was definitely a sigh of relief from the teachers that this plot failed. Thank goodness! The House of Lords is a beautiful building!

November 5th is a big day in the UK—a day that lives in infamy due to its namesake and what this man’s actions stood for. If you have never attended a Guy Fawkes celebration then you’re really missing out. This is a time honoured tradition and it has been celebrated in the country for centuries. It’s an absolute amazing experience and I wish I was in London right now to join the celebrations.

Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act (also know as the Thanksgiving Act) enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. You do feel sympathetic to the way he was tortured and executed; he and his fellow conspirators were hanged, drawn and quartered, as was the custom of that time.

Remember to watch the movie V for Vendetta (it was originally to be released on 5th of November 2005 to mark the 400th anniversary of the failed Plot but got pushed back to 2006). I won’t spoil it for you but ‘V’ finally does what Guy Fawkes never could. A beautiful overture is played in the ending where Big Ben strikes midnight, namely Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812. If your not classically inclined, you might be surprised if you already know it; the overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare finale. I’ve included a youtube link of the finale here. It was written by Russian composer Tchaikovsky in 1880 to commemorate Russia’s defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino in 1812.

If your in London, consider yourself lucky as there are numerous events planned for tonight at the Bonfire Night London. Sadly, no bonfires here in Copenhagen. I wondered about whether the British Embassy was doing something, but there is no indication on their website for a public event. So…

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot…


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