Guy Fawkes Night commemorates the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Roman Catholic (or "Popish," to use a less obliging term) insurgents were caught planning the obliteration of the House of Commons. Fawkes and his fellow conspirators met a sticky end--17th century justice was not noted for its mercy--and the gruesomeness of those days was reflected in the way British children would mark the approach of Guy Fawkes Night.
They created effigies of Fawkes, trailing them through the streets, collecting money. They would later hurl these effigies into the bonfires lit up and down the kingdom. As the figures hit the roaring flames, cheers would rise from the onlookers. Burn in hell, Fawkes. A plague on your house. That'll teach you.
One now rarely sees children trundling a Guy through the streets. The practice seems to have gone out of fashion.
But there are surely other forces at work here. The idea of defending Parliament seems odd, given the recent scandals that have hit Westminster.
Well, many Guy Fawkes Day celebration - if even held (because, you know, lighting a bonfire leaves a terrible carbon footprint) - have turned into political satire, with effigies of politicians burned at the stake. Not here, though - anyone who would be caught doing that for Obama would be labeled a racist. Gotta be careful of those hate crimes, you know.
So, here's a lovely clip from the Fr. Ted series celebrating racism tongue-in-cheek. In the meantime, I'll go get my bonfire ready.