Trick or treat? For Fawkes sake revive that Bonfire Night Guy!

29 Oct

I BLAME it on the Americans. In fact, I blame everything on the Americans – they are big enough to take it. Even the ones who weigh less than20 stone.

I’m talking about the over-the-top Halloween hoo-ha that has whooped its way into Britain…and all but killed off one of the nation’s most treasured occasions.

When I was a child, Guy Fawkes Night was one of the biggest days of the year. A tradition marking the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, it commemorated a failed assassination attempt against King James I by a group of provincial English Catholics.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament – something I doubt many British 10-year-olds these days know anything about.

Kid today are more concerned with Halloween, where they are free to frighten the lives out of  old ladies by donning ­horrific masks and demanding sweets with menaces.

I wonder what you get if you ask for a ‘trick’ rather than a ‘treat’? Does one of the little demons remove his mask and turn out to be Paul Daniels?

To me, the Guy Fawkes culture of my youth was so much more embracing.

For days, even weeks before the event, we’d go from door to door with makeshift effigies of Fawkes and implore householders to give us ‘a penny for the Guy’.

Then, as darkness fell on November 5, the neighbourhood would gather for a fireworks spectacular in which Guys galore would go up in smoke on top of a massive communal bonfire.

How that delightful tradition came to be usurped by the hideous ‘trick or treat’ culture, I do not know.

I believe Halloween has Celtic origins and was originally a pagan holiday in honour of the dead.

But I honestly cannot remember anyone celebrating it when I was young.

We may have started it – but as with everything else, the world has pinged it back in our faces with interest.

But I yearn for my grandchildren to enjoy the atmosphere of Guy Fawkes Night as I did half a century ago.

November 5 has a special place in my heart.

And nobody will convince me that the Halloween takeover was not a devious plot by those over-the-top, razzamatazz Americans.

Published in The Courier, 28/11/2011 (

2 Responses to “Trick or treat? For Fawkes sake revive that Bonfire Night Guy!”

  1. Eileen x October 29, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    I totally agree!!!
    Even here in Spain where I have lived for over 20 years, they have gone over the top with it in recent years!! A few years ago, they never had a Halloween, you couldn´t even buy Xmas decorations,(they celebrate Xmas Eve, not Xmas Day)….. but now, it´s over he top with both these days!


  1. November… Bonfire Night, darkness and my American friends give thanks « Domesticated Dad - November 1, 2011

    […] Trick or treat? For Fawkes sake revive that Bonfire Night Guy! ( […]

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