Press release

Government backs 'Great British tradition' of Bonfire Night

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New guide for communities to celebrate Britain’s 'Thanksgiving Day'.

Bonfire

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today (19 October 2014) celebrated the important role Bonfire Night plays in bringing Britain together across colour, class and creed as he published a common sense community guide to bonfires and fireworks to mark the longevity of Parliamentary democracy and the British Monarchy.

He challenged health and safety zealots and the politically correct who have tried to suppress the celebration of this British day.

Local shops this week started stocking fireworks for the annual celebration on 5 November, when thousands of communities across the country will come together to mark the failure of Guy Fawkes’ plot in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James, the first King of Great Britain. Bonfire Night subsequently became Britain’s ‘Thanksgiving Day’.

The new guide takes on health and safety zealots and municipal killjoys, by encouraging community bonfires and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes – with common sense tips to ensure a safe, enjoyable evening.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said:

Bonfire Night is a great British tradition, and it continues to have resonance as we give thanks for the longevity of our Parliamentary democracy and the British Monarchy.

This new guide challenges the municipal killjoys and health and safety zealots who want to stop bonfires and fireworks. The public should be encouraged to celebrate this day in the traditional way, together with some common sense tips to ensure a safe and fun evening.

Important occasions like this bring people together across colour, class and creed. Britain is stronger as a nation when we celebrate these ties and traditions that bind our country together.

Further information

A community guide to organising bonfires and fireworks has been published on this website.

On 5 November 1605, Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder, as part of a terrorist plot to blow up Parliament and King James I (and King James VI of Scotland) on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the King and government. The following year in 1606 it became an annual custom for the King and Parliament to commission a sermon to commemorate the event.

Parliament passed the Observance of 5th November Act – commonly known as the ‘Thanksgiving Act’ - which introduced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. Although the Act was repealed in the 19th century, the tradition of bonfires and fireworks continues, including burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire.

To this day, prior to each State Opening of Parliament by the Queen, the Yeomen of the Guard still searches the cellars of the Palace of Westminster for gunpowder. And ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ or ‘Bonfire Night’ remains a day of celebration in British culture.

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Published 19 October 2014