Remember the Fifth of November

Vera Iwankiw
November 11, 2013

November 5th is a national holiday here in England: Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night or Firework Night. These other names should give you a clue as to what happens on that night. Guy Fawkes was caught trying to blow up parliament of the fifth of November 1605, and in celebration of the king and parliament surviving this attempt on their lives, people lit up bonfires all over England, and the tradition has stuck.

My friends and I went to this local pub by our student housing that were advertising free dinner and fireworks afterward. Being cynical Americans, we were sure that there was a catch- that we would have to buy something or something like that. We walked in and were greeted with the wonderful smells of baked potatoes, chili, meat pies, chips (fries), pizza, hot dogs, candied apples, roasted chestnuts, and lemon meringue pie! We ate like royalty. And not only was this all actually free, we were actually encouraged by the staff to get seconds and try new things.


There was also a very interesting atmosphere in the pub. There were children running around in there and every so often a song like “The Hokey Pokey” would come blasting out of the stereo. But on the other side of the pub, there were older men drinking their pints after work. It was a very odd combination of people there and it seemed very English to me- celebrating a holiday with you family at the pub and not at home.

three students laughing in their dorm

Signing along to “Happy and You Know It”

A friend and I found sparklers and felt like children at the Fourth of July. Then the fireworks started and we all started panicking. Apparently, the fire regulation laws must be much less strict here because the fireworks were right in front of us. They were being done right over one of the canals in London, but there were houses all around and trees directly behind the launch point. It was crazy and after we stopped freaking out about everything catching on fire, we watched in awe. This was the closest any of us had ever been to fireworks, and there is something pretty amazing about that. The only thing I didn’t get to see was anyone burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes (which apparently happens). But, I’ve decided that free food and fireworks makes this a great holiday, so “Remember, Remember the Fifth of November!”

students holding sparklers on an empty sidewalk


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Vera Iwankiw

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I was born and raised in Chicago, where I grew up learning about my Ukrainian culture and language. I currently attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and am studying Human Development with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. I play on the university&rsquo;s club water polo team and synchronized swimming team and am active in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I have traveled internationally to Ukraine, Canada, and Mexico for vacation and Cape Town, South Africa for a service learning trip. In the future, I hope to continue my studies in law school, with the hope of one day practicing as a family law or child advocate lawyer.</span></p>

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