Guy Fawkes Night in Scotland


So you've found yourself in Scotland in the "off-season". It's not really summer anymore and it's not quite the winter wonderland yet so what's on during this kinda soggy autumn time? Well, one big event you can enjoy is actually my absolute favourite day of the year! Here's everything you need to know about Guy Fawkes Night in Scotland!
What is Guy Fawkes Night? So, first of all, Guy Fawkes Night actually has a multitude of names so you'll hear Guy Fawkes Night referred to as Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night or simply by it's date- the 5th of November. This one is actually a Britain-wide celebration and yes, I have used Britain as a very specific term, so not UK-wide as it is not celebrated in Northern Ireland and if you're in the middle of planning for a UK and Ireland tour, nope, not Ireland either.
The history behind Guy Fawkes as a national holiday is actually quite an odd one. So, the exceptionally condensed and simplified version is this. Guy Fawkes was a man who lived at the turn of the 17th century, in a time when his religious beliefs weren't allowed by law, and so he tried to blow up both the parliament and the King in 1605 with his "Gunpowder Plot" planned for the 5th of November. He failed. And now we set off fireworks to commemorate that he didn't explode the government and the monarch....yeah, I don't really get it either. Most people just like a night of pretty lights and don't really know, or don't particularly think, about the history of it.
What are the traditions around Guy Fawkes Night? So there are a few traditions that go along with the night and based on the various other names it receives you've probably guessed the basics:
Fireworks. The main event. The showstopper. The one that makes it. There needs to be fireworks to celebrate a failed "Gunpowder Plot" because... you know...reasons. There are no specifics on types or colours or exact times to set them off but they need be there for everyone to go "ooh" and "aah" at. And I tend to go "ooh" and "aah" for every single one.
Bonfires. Sadly, this one is slowly disappearing as people started to realise that having, what was usually, a GIANT fire surrounded by people wasn’t really the best idea but bonfires are very much a part of a traditional event – hence “Bonfire Night”. As a child, I remember our local village bonfire, built largely of wooden pallets, being truly enormous and the heat that would come off the thing was just unfathomable but it was a vital part of the night. The 5th of November was always icy cold so you had to go stand by the fire every so often to thaw out a bit or to toast some marshmallows or your face. At that time, kids just wandered around it, there were no fences and our clothes were probably not particularly fire retardant, but if there is a bonfire at an organised event today they will be carefully controlled, fenced off and with full health and safety checks keeping everything right!
A penny for the Guy. So the bonfires also come with a little add on. Another tradition of Guy Fawkes Night here in Britain is to actually burn an effigy of Mr Guy Fawkes at the top of the bonfire. I think this one has also fallen a little by the wayside too (though there are some noted exceptions in England) but in the past children would go around the streets or go door-to-door and ask people for “a penny for the Guy”. Basically can you spare some change to help us make a scarecrow and buy kindling to set him on fire….