November the 5th is known here as Bonfire Night (or Fireworks Night, Guy Fawkes Day). It's a day where we have fireworks displays in parks and back gardens, with a traditional giant bonfire as the centre piece, onto which we cast effigies of Mr Guy (Guido) Fawkes. Although mainly only kids get involved with the making of a "Guy".
It's one of the two times a year (the other being Halloween) that it's not frowned upon for kids to go out begging.
"Penny for the Guy" business plan:
- Make a Guy: Use old clothes or a steal some from a sibling that you hate. Stuff them with newspaper. Make head with something like a balloon that you can draw a face on and place a hat.
- Sit somewhere on a busy street or outside a train station.
- Start begging. Hold out your hand to passers by and use the phrase "Penny for the Guy?".
So what's it all about? Well back in 1605 a bunch of dudes conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill all inside. They placed large amounts of gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of parliament and it was Guy Fawkes' that was caught red handed the night before (November 4th) lying in wait to light the fuse and detonate the explosive. The conspiracy was to be remembered as "The Gunpowder Plot".
You can read more about the official version of events here at the dedicated Gunpowder Plot section of the Parliament site.
Or for a slightly different angle you can check out the Gunpowder Plot Society's site. They believe "that the official account of this event that persists in our folklore cannot possibly be true."
Now enough of the history lessons. Check out this video which illustrates a method of firework display that unfortunately is not the tradition here in the UK.
Maybe if it became the tradition I would actually go and stand in a freezing cold park for a couple of hours. While the wife and kids enjoy the lights in the sky, us dads can enjoy the launching pads. Hehehe.
Also, on the subject of burning people see: Cremated man turns up ALIVE!