Here in Britain, we have just had our fireworks night.
In past years, I have always admired the pretty colours and thought back to when I was about 5 and completely hated fireworks, burying my head in someone’s shoulder. This year however, I started to think about why we have fireworks night.
Also known as Guy Fawkes night, we have this occasion on and around the 5th November every year to commemorate the capture of Guy Fawkes and the prevention of the Houses of Parliament getting blown up.
In a plan to overthrow King James I in 1605, a band of men wanted to blow up parliament. However, a warning letter had been sent and in the early hours of the 5th November, a mercenary by the name of Guy Fawkes was found in the cellar underneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was caught, tortured and executed. Celebrating the fact that their King had survived this attempt on his life, the people of London lit bonfires.
Since then, it has been an annual occurence to celebrate this failed attempt of early day terrorism.
As I stood watching the fireworks, thinking of why we celebrate, I then remembered something I had read in an essay by George Orwell, “English literature… is full of battle poems, but it is worth noticing that the ones that have won for themselves a kind of popularity are always a tale of disasters and retreats”
We British definately have a trait for celebrating failures.
I like to think that it is because we can laugh at ourselves; a kind of “oh well, try, try again” attitude. But I do think it weird that we don’t really celebrate any successes.