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‘Tis the season…


I’m sure you’ve heard of Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, which is celebrated on November 5 with fireworks and the burning of Fawkes in effigy (or, more traditionally, the Pope in effigy, since the conspirators were Catholic). It commemorates the foiling of a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

Which doesn’t look like such a very bad idea these days.

But I digress.

The holiday is a bit different in Sussex. There is a GIGANTIC November 5 celebration in Lewes, a kind of Mardi Gras with more fire, less nudity. Most of the major towns in the county (and parts of Kent) have bonfire societies which come to march through the town for the big one.

In return, each of the towns and villages has its own Bonfire Night and everyone comes to march in their celebrations, too. So they have to stagger them. Between late September and November 5, there’s a bonfire somewhere in the county pretty much every weekend.

And very pagan-y affairs they are, too. There are elaborate and spooky costumes, and torches and fireworks, and they pull the guy (the various guys, which are effigies of people in the news. I believe Dubya got immolated a time or two) through the town. At the end, there’s a HUGE bonfire (usually made of hundreds of wood pallets) and they blow up the Guy and several kzillions of pounds (in weight and/or money) of fireworks.

The first big one is tomorrow night, in Hastings. I don’t think we’ll go this year, but we’ve gone before. It’s most impressive. Last year, they saw it in France and sent out the lifeboats.

Oh, and the tiny village of Icklesham insists on defying local custom and having theirs on November 5 each year, so none of the other villages will show up or advertise for them. Go Icklesham!

October 16, 2009 — 8:31 pm
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