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Watch Out For That Christian, Guy.

Halloween is over for another year and we have slowly crept into November. The last day of October and the first of November are mixed in a strange marriage. For after the night of scary monsters and frightening creatures from the underworld, today we wake up to the Catholic celebration of “All Hallows” or “All Saints Day.” The jump from costumed evil and mayhem to a day celebrating Catholic saints is a short leap.

When I was but a young sapling living in England, we didn’t celebrate Halloween, because it was too close in proximity to something called “Bonfire Night,” which takes place on November 5th. On Bonfire Night, the English light big (controlled) bonfires all over the country, and burn life-sized human dolls (effigies which sit atop the wooden log stocked pyramids.) The doll is traditionally made from old clothes stuffed with newspapers, and bears the face of a creepy looking bearded man. He is designed to be highly flammable and has a fate which has been determined by the actions of a devout Catholic over 400 years ago.

As the bonfire burned, there’d likely be a small fireworks display, and the revelers would eat baked potatoes and bangers (English sausages) and then of course, they’d probably stand around and make fun of each other, because the English are really good at that.

In the week or two before Bonfire Night, you might see kids proudly hovering over their homemade creepy character (Guy), panhandling for change. Sort of like a modern-day version of a Dickensian, grubby-faced urchin selling matchbooks on the street “Penny for me last book o’ matches, guv’na?” The tragedy for these kids is that they completely missed out on Halloween. Instead, they’re supposed to “Remember, remember the Fifth of November.”

The “Guy” is an effigy of the conspiracist Guy Fawkes, who, with 12 other Catholics, tried to blow up King James I and The House of Lords on the day of the state opening of parliament in 1605. Ultimately, the plot failed, as Guy Fawkes was discovered red-handed by the King’s guards with 36 kegs of gunpowder in the dampened cellars of the House of Lords. Awkwaaard. 

Hey, Guy, thanks for the fireworks display and baked potatoes...but I'd have rather have spent this time of year getting candy from strangers dressed as a little vampire.

Their mission was to replace the Protestant monarch with a Catholic. However, the 36 kegs would have done much more than just kill the King. The explosion would likely have killed all the lords, politicians, elite members of English law, guards, and senior members of the Church, not to mention the many civilian people who would have likely perished in their wooden homes from the subsequent fires.

This band of 13 Christians believed that their actions were justified by their devotion to their religious cause. They were a cell of fanatical extremists attempting to carry out pre-meditated devastation in the name of their religion. Kind of eerie. I think you know where I’m going with this: Its not much of a stretch to compare their mission to a recent act of terrorism unleashed on America. Of course the considerable difference being that Guy Fawkes and his men were Christians who worshipped Jesus and God. Not the same thing at all, right?

Now of course this didn’t mean every Christian living in England wanted to blow up The Houses of Parliament–because that would be ridiculous.

In modern thinking though, Guy Fawkes could be considered as a hero to some, but an evil terrorist to others. Ultimately it depends on your religious views.

Strangely, something else came from Guy Fawkes. Have you ever wondered what someone means when they call you “guy?”

“Hey, guy, can you tell me the time?” And why are men euphemistically called guys?

In the 1800’s, (200 years after The Gunpowder Plot) the name “Guy” would mockingly refer to any man who was attired strangely, probably in reference to the various odd states of old and weathered clothing fitted on to an effigy. As in: “Look at the state of you; you look like a Guy.”

English fun-making at its finest.

The noun “guy” would eventually just come to mean a man. So next time you call someone “Guy” or “guy,” make sure they don’t know the history behind the Gunpowder Plot, and just what it is that you are really calling them….because some guys can get offended over the most ridiculous things.

One Response

  1. I did not know that, Guy. I don’t want you to get offended if I refer to as Guy, so I’ll just keep calling you an arse. Happy?!

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