Penny for the Guy

4 Nov

MAKE is sadly missing getting crafty with a GUY! Ooh er misses and no it’s not what you think.

This time of year back home in the UK many are getting ready to celebrate GUY FAWKES NIGHT by making their very own HOME MADE Guy Fawkes . Buying a shed load of fireworks, sparklers, jacket potatoes, hot dogs and building huge bonfires ready for a fun-filled explosive night of sky works, and dancing and running around a big fire.

What is Guy Fawkes?

So what is it all about, well after Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that some kind of action was needed.

A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. So a plot was planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics.

To carry out their plan, 36 barrels of gunpowder were placed and stored  in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.

But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th.

The warning letter reached the King, and the King’s forces made plans to stop the conspirators.

Guy Fawkes one of the conspirators, was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed in during the early hours of November 5th, he was caught, tortured and executed.

The tradition of Guy Fawkes-related bonfires actually began the very same year as the failed coup. The Plot was foiled in the night between the 4th and 5th of November 1605. Already on the 5th, agitated Londoners who knew little more than that their King had been saved, joyfully lit bonfires in thanksgiving. As years progressed, however, the ritual became more elaborate.

Why Penny For The Guy?

Kids and adults get crafty and make home-made almost life-size Guy Fawkes. Some get carried, put on sticks, stuck in shopping trolleys and pushed around. Often with a sign saying penny for the guy. The money collected with the guys is then used to buy fireworks and sparklers. Then on the BIG night the guy fawkes get tossed into the large bon fire and burned.

There are also rhymes and songs that go along with the ritual night and burning.

Please to remember
The fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Please to remember
The fifth of November,
The poor old guy
With a hole in his stocking
A hole in his shoe
A hole in his hat where his hair comes through.

Guy Fawkes, Guy
Hit him in the eye,
Hang him from the lamp-post
And leave him there to die.
Umbrella down the cellar,
There I saw a naked fella
Burn his body, save his soul,
There I saw a lump of coal;
If a lump of coal won’t do,
Please give me a ha’penny.

Sadly MAKE cannot even honor the tradition in Amsterdam as surprisingly although come New Year the city is almost a war zone with fireworks, bangers, crackers, fire it is actually illegal to purchase fireworks in Holland unless its 2 weeks before New Years Eve.

So all those UKers have fun making your Guys and those Ex-pats in Amsterdam, maybe make one anyway and burn it on a terrace somewhere! (Safely of course)


One Response to “Penny for the Guy”

  1. pixyledpublications October 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    I am trying to survey the survival of the Penny for the guy tradition across the UK to work out if there are any patterns or strongholds. The website blurb goes as following:
    Penny for the guy sighting project

    In the weeks before Bonfire or Guy Fawkes’ Night children could be seen on street corners, outside shops, schools, parks and basically everywhere with a crude effigy crying “Penny For the Guy”….then they appeared to disappear or have they?

    Is it a dying or dead tradition everywhere? This project aims to catalogue sightings.

    So the intention of this blog is for people to add sightings so that the present survival can be assessed. Is the tradition healthier in the North or the South? What do the Guys look like? How old are the children and so on? That’s why if you see one please make comment on the website all entries gratefully received.

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