Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) is a traditional celebration held in Britain shortly after Halloween, on November 5. It commemorates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, an early 17th century plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James I.
Guy Fawkes was not the leader of the Gunpowder Plot but he was the first of the conspirators to be arrested, on November 5, 1605. He was eventually executed, along with the other conspirators.
King James told his subjects to celebrate the failure of the plot against his life by lighting the autumn bonfires, which they had always had on Halloween on November 5 instead. Guy Fawkes Night continues to be celebrated in Britain with bonfires, on which dummies representing Guy Fawkes (called "guys") are often burnt. Before the guys are burnt it is traditional for children to display them on the street and ask passersby for money by calling out, "A penny for the guy". Public and private fireworks displays are an important part of the festival.
Guy Fawkes Night is still celebrated in some Commonwealth countries, such as New Zealand, some Caribbean nations, and some regions of Canada and South Africa. It is not widely celebrated in the United States, although its celebration has recently been introduced to a few schools and communities. It was, however, a holiday in colonial America and continued to be celebrated in New York and Boston into the 19th century.
The fact that Guy Fawkes Night takes place less than a week after Halloween means that it is not uncommon to find parties in Britain in late October or early November that celebrate both events. Such parties may feature costumes, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin-based foods, apple bobbing and ghost stories in addition to fireworks and a bonfire with a guy.
Guy Fawkes Night is not celebrated in the Republic of Ireland. However, bonfires and fireworks are an integral part of Halloween celebrations in that country.
In many parts of northern England, the night before Guy Fawkes Night is considered to be Mischief Night, a night when older children and teenagers traditionally play pranks on their neighbors. The same tradition is observed on the night before Halloween in some parts of the United States and Canada.