Saturday, 5 November 2011

A Charming Little Christian Festival

Remember! Remember!
The fifth of November.
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot!

Bonfire night. Until recently, the night English families, often in larger groups, gather together around a bonfire and let off fireworks. Traditionally the bonfire would have a human effigy or 'Guy' on top and a cheer would go up when it burned.

Nowadays these events tend to be very large organised events due to the frequency with which people fell in the bonfire of blew hands off or eyes out with fireworks which, inexplicably, shops sold to children and even adults thought were safe to hold.

Oh! Those were the days! How well I remember my mother's screams as the threepenny rocket bounced off my little sister's head. I had clearly misjudged the angle of the home-made bamboo rocket launcher with cotton-reel handles. Her hair was quickly put out though, and the swelling went down in a few days, so no real harm done. I must say though that the burn on my hand from the flaming paraffin which ran down the handle of my home-made flaming torch lasted a few days longer. Maybe I should have made a better seal in the bottom of the treacle tin where the nail went through.

But enough of this sentimentality...

This annual festival celebrates the burning at the stake of Guido (Guy) Fawkes, one of the alleged conspirators in a Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. So alarmed were the Protestant authorities by this plot that they instigated an annual celebration of it as a reminder of the ever-present danger of an overthrow of Anglicanism, God's one true faith, by the agents of Satan in the form of the Whore of Babylon (The Pope) and his satanic minions (Catholics).

There are those who argue that the Protestant authorities might well have encouraged, or even fabricated the entire 'plot' as an excuse for yet another pogrom against Catholics and a bout of yet more blood-letting in the name of the God of Love in that charming way Christians have for settling theological matters between themselves.

Roman Candle
The fireworks will include the ever popular and charmingly named, 'Roman Candle' which shoots coloured flares and 'screamers' into the air to simulate the Satanic demons being released from the bodies of Catholics as they were burned on fires - the prescribed punishment for Catholic heretics in those days.
Another popular firework is the 'Catherine Wheel' named after a legendary Greek Orthodox saint from Alexandria who was condemned by the Roman Emperor Maximus Daia to be 'broken on the wheel'. However, God intervened and broke the wheel instead.

Phew!

Unfortunately, God then seems to have lost interest, as Maximus Daia promptly had Catherine's head cut off instead.
Catherine Wheel





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