On November 5, 1605, revolutionary Guy Fawkes was caught guarding a stash of gunpowder that was to be used to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England. Fawkes and his co-conspirators were drawn and quartered, and the Catholic revolutionaries’ plot to overthrow Protestant King James I foiled.
Two centuries after the “gunpowder plot” failed, a nursery rhyme immortalized the act.
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
And it has not been forgotten. Today, many people in Britain celebrate Fawkes’ failure to overthrow the government on “Guy Fawkes Day” with fireworks, parades, elaborate costumes, and the burning of effigies.
Originally an anti-Catholic celebration, Guy Fawkes Day, or “Bonfire Night,” is now celebrated as a holiday, with bonfires and fireworks lit nationwide.
Fawkes himself can be seen year-round. His face was the inspiration for the stylized masks of hacktivist group Anonymous, and was popularized in the film V for Vendetta. The masks are also used by anti-government protesters worldwide.