Is Bonfire Night a Pagan Rite?

A R T L▼R K

In the early hours of the 5th of November 1605, Guy Fawkes was found guarding explosives in Westminster Palace. Late January 1606, the man and his fellow Catholic plotters were found guilty of an attempted assassination against King James I; on the last day of the same month, they were hung and quartered; their body parts, distributed all over the country, served as an example against any attempts of conspiracy in the future.  By the order of the King’s officials, Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot by lighting bonfires. The tradition of Bonfire Night has been kept intact ever since.

“During the first half of the eighteen century, the Fifth of November had a partisan political flavour, privileging Whig over Tory ideologies. By the 1760s, it was a festival that was firmly embedded in popular politics as a day of national deliverance from…

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