The Apple Of God's Eye

August 9, 2009

Guy Fawkes Day: No Biblical Basis As A Religious Holiday!

GuyFawkesBonfireIn Great Britain, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated every November 5.

This holiday has its origins in a religious conflict involving the banishment of Roman Catholic priests from England. In protest, several laymen plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament when King James I was to open the new session. Nearly 40 barrels of gunpowder were prepared and secreted in a cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament. Authorities discovered the plot and the conspirators were arrested and executed.

In the early 1700s, after firmly choosing Protestantism over Catholicism, the British nation began to celebrate the anniversary of the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes — an apparent ringleader — had been chosen to set off the ill-fated explosion, hence the holiday became known as Guy Fawkes’ Day, and was celebrated by burning Fawkes in effigy. Later, fireworks were added to the festivities.

Children made human figures out of straw and sticks, and begged coins from passersby by asking, “Penny for the Guy?” They chanted rhymes like these:

“Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.”

A few old Fawkes’ Night rhymes were aimed at the far-off leader of the Catholic Church:

“A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.”

Guy Fawkes Day in England is reminiscent of Halloween celebrations. Marguerite Ickis tells us, “Guy Fawkes Day has many customs in common with a Halloween celebration in the United States” (Book of Festivals and Holidays World Over, page 120).

Young people in England observe this holiday somewhat like Americans observe Halloween. The Book of Days tells us:

“English juveniles still regard the 5th of November as one of the most joyous days of the year. The universal mode of observance through all parts of England is the dressing up of a scarecrow figure, in such cast-habiliments as can be procured (the headpiece, generally a paper cap painted and knotted with paper strips in imitation of ribbons), parading it in a chair through the streets and at nightfall burning it with great solemnity in a huge bonfire…. The procession visits the different houses in the neighborhood…. One invariable custom is always maintained — that of soliciting money from the passersby, in the formula, ‘Pray remember Guy!’ ‘Please to remember Guy!’ or ‘Please to remember the bonfire!’ [The common expression now is “Penny for the guy”]” (pages 549-550).

In times past, Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated by many of the adult generation. “In the old days the festival was celebrated heartily with bonfires and parades of masqueraders, who carried aloft ‘popes’ or ‘guys’ of straw” (Dorothy Gladys Spicer, The Book of Festivals, page 14).

But as Marguerite Ickis explains: “Today Guy Fawkes Day is mainly a holiday for children, who observe it by dressing up in funny costumes, having parades, lighting firecrackers and making straw dummies of Guy Fawkes” (Book of Festivals and Holidays World Over, page 120).

Like Halloween, Guy Fawkes Day has its religious overtones. The Book of Days informs us: “Till 1859, a special service for the 5th of November formed part of the ritual of the English Book of Common Prayer; but by special ordinance of the Queen in Council, this service… has been abolished” (page 549).

Guy Fawkes Day, like Halloween and many other days observed the world over, has no biblical basis as a religious holiday.

Source: The Good News, October/November 1985

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