Tonight in the UK is Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire/ Fireworks night) and I only remembered this yesterday, and then got annoyed that, as it is only celebrated in the UK and I am in Croatia, I will miss it. For anyone who is unaware of it, it is a celebration of the failure of a plot to kill King James I. It failed when one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was found guarding explosives hidden beneath the House of Lords, and is celebrated with the building of bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on them and setting off fireworks.It is my favourite celebration, and comes at my favourite time of year, and I have many memories of it from growing up.
Making a Guy always involved stuffing one of dad’s old jumpers with newspaper, precariously fixing similarly stuffed trousers to the body, and a fragile head on top.
The best nights were always the ones at home, or the homes of friends (depending on who had a supply of wood they needed to burn, possibly from a recently knocked down shed or garden fence).
With the bonfire burning it was time to eat some great autumn food whether it was a jacket potato, always best from the embers of a bonfire; a rich stew; or some soup drunk from a mug whilst stood around the fire.
Standing and talking with friends and family by the fire as it burns.
The excitement as the fireworks are brought out, peering into the box to see what there is. The various lights, colours and noises all enchanting, delighting and shocking.The Catherine Wheels that never work, no matter how well they are set-up, and the amusement when one year it actually does.
Writing your name with a sparkler.
And the extra large firework that one uncle or friend brings, the one that needs to be half-buried in the ground and the advice means you need to be two streets away to be able to see it safely.
Poking around in the embers of the fire, and getting light-headed as you blow on them to try and get it to relight.
And the smell of wood-smoke that stays on your clothes for days.
To me it always will represent warmth and comfort, from the fire, the food, wrapping up warm and being around good company, and although I am missing it I will get the opportunity to celebrate some new festivals here, and although I did miss the most recent one, All Saints’ Day on November 1st, because I was in Sarajevo, where it is not celebrated by the majority Muslim population, I was there eating good food, was warmed by the Eternal Flame, and was with very good company.