10 Explosive Facts About Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes is the reason we remember, remember, the 5th of November.
Guy Fawkes is the reason we remember, remember, the 5th of November.

On November 5, people across Great Britain celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with bonfires and fireworks. Centuries after his failed attempt to blow up the British Parliament, Fawkes's image remains prevalent in popular culture, thanks to films like V for Vendetta (2005). Here are 10 fiery facts about Fawkes and the holiday his treasonous attempts inspired.

1. Guy Fawkes was a clandestine Catholic.

Guy (also known as Guido) Fawkes was born in 1570 in Yorkshire, England. He was raised by a Protestant family, but secretly converted to Catholicism as a young man. When he was 21, he went to fight alongside the Spanish Catholics in Flanders. During the fighting, he became an expert on explosives. This, alongside his fanatic Catholicism, is what got him recruited to the Gunpowder Plot.

2. Guy Fawkes played a key role in the Gunpowder Plot.

England became a Protestant country after the Reformation. As such, Catholics were persecuted and forced to practice their religion in secret. A wealthy Catholic named Robert Catesby decided the only solution to this discrimination was to overthrow King James I and his government. He recruited a number of other Catholics, including Fawkes, and together they plotted to plant gunpowder under the British Houses of Parliament and blow it sky-high.

The conspirators rented a cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament. Disguised as a servant named John Johnson, Fawkes began filling it with barrels of gunpowder. Once the explosives were in place and Parliament was confirmed to be sitting, ensuring the House of Commons would be full of MPs, the date for ignition was set: November 5, 1605.

3. An anonymous letter foiled the Gunpowder Plot.

Everything was going according to plan, until one of the conspirators decided to write an anonymous letter to a Catholic member of Parliament, Lord Monteagle, warning him to stay away from the Houses of Parliament on the night of November 5. Monteagle, sensing danger, showed the letter to the King, who ordered the area to be immediately searched. Thirty-six barrels of gunpowder were discovered hidden beneath piles of firewood in a storeroom below the House of Lords. Fawkes, found at the scene while armed with long fuses and dressed for his escape, was arrested.

4. Guy Fawkes was sentenced to death for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot.

After his capture, Fawkes was sent to the infamous Tower of London, where he was tortured until he confessed and gave the names of his fellow conspirators. Soldiers were soon dispatched to Staffordshire to apprehend Catesby, the mastermind behind the plot. Catesby and his two compatriots died in a gunfight while attempting to combat the approaching soldiers.

Fawkes, meanwhile, was sentenced to death. Treason carried the harshest punishment, and he was to be hung, drawn, and quartered. On the day of his execution—January 31, 1606—Fawkes managed to wrestle free from the soldiers guarding him and jumped (or fell) from the gallows, fatally breaking his neck. The executioners were not going to let him escape his full punishment: They cut his dead body into quarters, then set the pieces of his corpse to the four corners of the kingdom as a warning to others.

5. The first Guy Fawkes Night was celebrated on November 5, 1606.

The day of the ill-fated Gunpowder Plot was decreed a day of celebration—after the attack was prevented, people lit bonfires to toast the King's safety. November 5 was declared a day of thanksgiving, and the first official celebration took place exactly a year after the failed Gunpowder Plot, on November 5, 1606. People across Britain gathered around bonfires and burned effigies of Fawkes.

The festivities developed over the years. It became customary for children to make a life-sized dummy of Fawkes, which they would take around their neighborhood in a wheelbarrow while asking for a “penny for the Guy” to collect money to buy fireworks. Huge bonfires were built in every village and town, and a Fawkes dummy would be placed on top and set alight. The traditional brightly colored firework displays represent the explosives that were meant to ignite under the Houses of Parliament.

6. Children recite rhymes about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.

Various songs and rhymes to help school children remember the story of the Gunpowder Plot were created, including this one from the 18th century:

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot…

7. People still celebrate Guy Fawkes Night.

Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night) is still honored on November 5 across Britain and parts of the former British Empire. Some people celebrate with friends in their gardens, while others gather in their village green, parks, and other public spaces. Bonfires are lit and effigies of Fawkes (or more often, modern political leaders or societal villains) are burned while fireworks burst in the sky. Traditionally, people feast on baked potatoes and toffee apples.

One of the most famous celebrations takes place in Lewes in East Sussex, where a number of bonfire societies, each with their own special traditions, host festivities across the city. Before the fires are lit, effigies of political figures are paraded through the town and the streets throng with people.

8. Guy Fawkes’s distinct look inspired the mask in V for Vendetta.

Numerous pictures and engravings were produced of the dramatic moment Fawkes was apprehended. His big black floppy hat, leather riding boots, and manicured mustache and beard became iconic. Centuries after the thwarted Gunpowder Plot, Fawkes’s image is still easily recognizable.

The main character in the comic book V for Vendetta (and 2005 movie of the same name) wears a mask of Fawkes’s face to keep his identity a secret as he fights against a dystopian authoritarian government. As a result, the Guy Fawkes mask has become synonymous with rebellion, and is often worn by anti-establishment protestors.

9. You can view Guy Fawkes’s lantern.

When Guy Fawkes was captured, he was supposedly holding an iron lantern to light his way in the dark cellars. Peter Heywood, who helped carry out the search of the Houses of Parliament on the night of the failed Gunpowder Plot, kept the beacon as a souvenir. When he died, the lantern went to his brother Robert, who worked at the University of Oxford. Robert gifted the iron lantern to his workplace in 1641. It was put on display at the Bodleian Library’s picture gallery, then later transferred to the Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, where you can still find it today.

10. The Houses of Parliament are still searched for concealed weapons.

Though the failed Gunpowder Plot occurred more than 400 years ago, it's still tradition for the Yeomen of the Guard to search the cellars of the Houses of Parliament before the State Opening each year. The original spot where Fawkes hid his gunpowder burned down during a fire at the Palace of Westminster in 1834, but officials still scour the existing cellars, just to be sure. However, the searches are performed more for tradition and ritual rather than security.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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See What Each State Is Googling This Halloween Season

Different states have different interests when it comes to Halloween.
Different states have different interests when it comes to Halloween.
Photo by Daisy Anderson from Pexels

Halloween may look a little—or a lot—different this year owing to ongoing global health concerns brought on by COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped people from pursuing interests from costumes to movies related to the spooky season.

Using Google Trends data, the people at SatelliteInternet.com, which helps connect people in rural areas to reliable internet access, have compiled a map of the Halloween topics each state has been searching for this year. As you can see, pumpkins, candy, and horror films are still very much on the minds of people looking for some Halloween inspiration.

A map of common Halloween Google search terms according to state.SatelliteInternet.com

While searches for autumn dominated in 14 states, Vermont natives have been curious about Stephen King’s It, while Kansas and South Dakota were searching for Chucky from the Child’s Play franchise.

Oregon wants to keep it light, searching for the 1998 Disney Channel movie Halloweentown, while Delaware is interested in body painting. Maine seems to be preoccupied with keeping kids busy, which is why coloring books are at the top of their search list.

If you’re curious which costumes are trending nationally, Google recently released a list. Witches take the top spot, followed by dinosaurs, Harley Quinn, and rabbits.