When I was growing up, we never really celebrated Halloween. We had another end of Autumn/beginning of Winter festival that we celebrated instead. It is still celebrated today, but not anywhere near as much as it used to be. It is called Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night.
I should really be posting about this in November, because bonfire night is on the 5th of November and there is a little nursery rhyme that we are all taught so we don’t forget.
“Remember, Remember the 5th of November
With Gunpowder, treason and Plot.
I See no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot”.
Growing up, the Schedule of events would always been the same.
We would gather at one of my many uncles or aunties, I was part of a very large extended family, my mother was one of eleven children. I had many cousins ranging in age from adults (well Jane was only 19 but when you’re six, THAT’s OLD) down to 5 years old. I was one of the youngest, but my cousin Simon was six months younger and Danielle was the youngest at 5.
First we would all help build up the bonfire. Cardboard and old bits of wood were piled as high as we could make it.
Then the fire was lit.
I remember my Auntie Vickie would give us all a potato each, which she’d grown on her allotment, and we’d wrap it in Aluminium foil and bury it near the fire.
Next thing, we would set off the fireworks. We never had expensive fireworks then. They were mainly small ones, called pinwheels, that were nailed onto a wooden post and span round, like a Catherine wheel, but smaller.
I remember being told off for being too rash with my sparkler, waving it around rather carelessly. I loved the smell of the gunpowder. Even to this day, I go for a walk on Bonfire night just to smell the phosphorous in the air.
We would also have a ‘Guy’ which was a human effigy. I used to make mine out of a pair of my dad’s old overalls stuffed with newspaper. My mum would put sparklers in the arms so when we threw it on the fire, the sparklers would light and it would be really exciting, it would illuminate all the faces of my family standing round the fire.
When the fire burned down a bit, we would rescue the potatoes and eat them with lashing of butter. Other culinary delights would be toffee apples, usually made from apples that had gone a bit soft dunked in toffee (which is a bit like caramel but more buttery and it goes hard in the cold). Sometimes we would have Candifloss, which is known as Cotton Candy in the US.
I remember it was always cold on Bonfire night. We rarely had snow, but your breath would always steam up, even standing near the fire. We would drink hot cocoa or warm ribena, which the grown-ups had Tea, or Coffee, or sometimes Mulled Wine.
Finally, after all the excitement, we would play board games, like monopoly or snakes and ladders, which was a good way of calming down after the fireworks.
I remember so many happy times. Now days, I hate fireworks, the loud bangs, I feel shellshocked. Most of my family have gone now, I don’t see many of my cousins any more, but it’s nice to reminisce.
Today’s things are: cotton candy, Snakes & Ladders, pinwheel