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Guy Fawkes Night: An Evening Of Food, Fanfare And Fire

While we are celebrating Thanksgiving, Great Britain is celebrating a dastardly deed gone awry.

Bonfire Toffee - Purchase the November 2016 for the full recipe!

Bonfire Toffee - Purchase the November 2016 for the full recipe!

In America, November is a month for giving thanks. Families and friends gather to express gratitude for the year's blessings with food-laden tables and a bounty of bonhomie. In Britain, however, November means just one thing: Guy Fawkes Night. This banner event, also known as Bonfire Night, is an evening of food, fanfare, and fire, eagerly anticipated and enjoyed by families all across the British Isles. It is a quintessential British remembrance of a dastardly deed gone awry, all wrapped up in an intriguing tale of treason.

In 1605, a botched attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament was foiled when guards caught explosives expert Guy Fawkes guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars below the House of Lords. Sufficient to blow up the entire building, the Gunpowder Plot, as it came to be known, was a conspiracy concocted by a gang of disgruntled Roman Catholic activists who had suffered great persecution during the 45-year reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

With the accession of King James I to the throne, they had hoped the torment would end but alas, it was not to be. So they took matters into their own hands and hatched the clandestine plot to blow up the king. For his part in the seditious scheme, Guy Fawkes was hanged, drawn and quartered and November 5 became a national day of thanksgiving. 

As a child growing up in the Yorkshire Dales, the arduous preparations for this evening of revelry would begin many months in advance. My friends and I would gather logs and kindling from the neighborhood woods, copses and spinneys and haul them to the village green hoping to build the biggest bonfire in the shire.