Definition of Bonfire Night noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


Bonfire Night

BrE BrE//ˈbɒnfaɪə naɪt//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈbɑːnfaɪər naɪt//
(also Guy Fawkes night) [uncountable, countable]
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the night of 5 November, when there is a tradition in Britain that people light bonfires and have fireworks to celebrate the failure of the plan in 1605 to destroy the parliament buildings with explosives CultureBonfire NightBritish people celebrate Bonfire Night every year on 5 November in memory of a famous event in British history, the Gunpowder Plot. On 5 November 1605 a group of Roman Catholics planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament while King James I was inside. On the evening before, one of them, Guy Fawkes, was caught in the cellars with gunpowder (= an explosive), and the plot was discovered. He and all the other conspirators (= people involved in the plan) were put to death. Bonfire Night is sometimes called Guy Fawkes Night.Originally, Bonfire Night was celebrated as a victory for Protestants over Catholics, but the festival is now enjoyed by everyone. Some children make a guy, a figure of a man made of old clothes stuffed with newspaper or straw to represent Guy Fawkes. The guy is then burned on top of a bonfire (= a large fire in a garden or park) on Bonfire Night. Children used to take their guy into the street a few days before Bonfire Night and ask for a ‘penny for the guy’, money for fireworks (= small packets of explosives which, when lit, make a bang or send a shower of coloured light into the air), but now it is less common for people to hold private bonfire parties in their gardens than to attend larger public events organized by local councils or charities. Chestnuts or potatoes are often put in the bonfire so that they will cook as it burns. Fireworks such as Roman candles, Catherine wheels (AmE pinwheels), bangers and rockets are put in the ground and are let off one by one. Children hold lighted sparklers (= metal sticks covered in a hard chemical substance that burns brightly when lit) in their hands and wave them around to make patterns. Only adults are legally allowed to buy fireworks, and because, unfortunately, there are sometimes accidents involving fireworks there are now restrictions on the type of fireworks that can be used by the general public.The events of 5 November 1605 are celebrated in a nursery rhyme:
Please to remember,The fifth of November,Gunpowder, treason and plot.