Remember, Remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
Today is a special anniversary. In America, fireworks are used to mark independence, and back in the UK they're only used once a year as well, apart from royal weddings and coronations, which don't come along too often. But today as with every November 5th, we rekindle the English visceral love of violence, and it's done with lots of explosions. I believe the practise of having bonfires in everyone's garden has changed to the safer version of communal fires to avoid the annual problem of children losing fingers and eyes. The history of the event however is of some interest.
Back in 1605 as the clock turned midnight to become November 5th, a search was made of the House of Parliament. One, Guy Fawkes, was found sitting among 36 barrels of gunpowder - enough to blow the place sky high at the official opening the next day. Many in the UK had tired of the intrusion of King James's government; high taxes, over-regulation, and... well you know the problem. Unfortunately the UK had not yet developed the ballot box idea sufficiently to throw the bums out; blowing them up was the next best thing. Guy was given a pretty decent introduction to the enforced interrogation methods of the day - namely the rack - and gave up his fellow dozen conspirators.
So every year we have celebrated the event with bonfires and fireworks. We even put an effigy of poor old Guy on top of the fire and get quite excited when he flares up. All to the accompaniment of fireworks, of course. So much more fun than just plain old independence. I rather miss it. You can read the entire history of the event at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpowder_Plot