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November 2022

Remember, Remember the 5th November

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot;
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.’

As we approach the colder months my thoughts turned to memories of my own childhood and the customs of 5th November or Bonfire Night.
The children in our street would stuff our dad’s old clothes with straw and old newspapers and make a scarecrow. We would then plonk it into a wheelbarrow and take it down to the local parade of shops and call out ‘Penny for the Guy’.

Any money given would be spent in the shops buying sparklers for Bonfire night celebrations. Families would buy little packs of fireworks for their back garden, and our Catherine wheels almost always stopped half way through! I only recently discovered the origin of the Catherine wheel. It

It’s recorded that Saint Catherine was tortured on a wheel by the Emperor Maxentius for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
The wheel broke and Catherine was eventually beheaded instead. Her martyrdom is remembered in the firework called the ‘Catherine Wheel’.

Back to my memories….Over the preceding weeks, families would be building a communal bonfire, with all their old chairs, bits of wood, branches and anything else that would burn.
Then on the 5th November the community would gather around and the effigies of Guy Fawkes would be lifted high on the bonfire and the whole thing set on fire.

People shared out bonfire toffee, which was very dark, brittle and tasted strongly of dark treacle and the children all lit their sparkles at the same time, drawing pictures into the dark night sky. I still love sparklers.

I wonder if anybody has similar memories? This was before the days of too many health and safety rules and regulations, when people were trusted to just be able to be sensible for themselves.

Times have changed and many families now visit large, organised bonfire celebrations, but something in my heart still cherishes those memories of years gone by and the fun we all had as a community on 5th November.

Hope you enjoy yours this year,

Blessings and best wishes

Linda Joy
Children and Families Worker
Holyford Mission Community

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