Why do we have fireworks on Bonfire Night?

Fireworks are set to light up the night on Tuesday (Picture: Getty Images)

It’s Bonfire Night on Tuesday, which means that the night sky’s about to be lit up with fireworks across the country.

And it actually seems as though we’ve been hearing those flashes and bangs for a while now, what with Diwali last week and firework displays this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s festivities.

However there’s more to the custom of letting off fireworks than just creating pretty patterns and making a lot of noise in the process (which let’s face it, isn’t always that popular with people).

So just what are the origins of fireworks on Bonfire Night?

Here’s what you need to know…

Why do we have fireworks on Bonfire Night?

Bonfire Night marks the anniversary of the attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses Of Parliament in 1605 – and since fireworks contain gunpowder they have an obvious connection to the day’s celebrations.

The plot – known as the Gunpowder Plot – saw Fawkes and his conspirators wanting to protest against King James I and his government over the anti-Catholic laws in England, which was under Protestant rule.

The Gunpowder Plot happened in 1605 – but was ultimately foiled (Picture: Getty Images)

They put 36 barrels of gunpowder in cellars underneath Parliament to set off an explosion – except the plot was foiled after one of the gang sent an anonymous letter to a friend who worked there warning him to stay away on that date.

Although he was not the ringleader of the Gunpowder Plot he was the one who was caught in Westminster Palace with the gunpowder all ready to go, and arrested.

Fawkes was tortured into giving up the names of his fellow conspirators, who were subsequently arrested and executed along with him.

Bonfire Night – originally known as Gunpowder Treason Day – has been celebrated on 5 November ever since, even in 1605 when Londoners were encouraged to light bonfires to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination.

When were fireworks first introduced to Bonfire Night?

Alexandra Palace in London puts on a spectacular show every year (Picture: WireImage)

Fireworks were first introduced into the celebrations in the 1650s.

It’s also traditional to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire – although the tradition of throwing a dummy on a bonfire dates back to the 13th Century, with the effigies only coming to represent Guy Fawkes after his act of treason.

MORE: Sainsbury’s bans fireworks to stop distress in pets and old people


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