5    Nov 20120 comments

Guy Fawkes: Remembering what?

George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes, published in William Harrison Ainsworth's 1840 novel (Credit: Wikipedia)

George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes, published in William Harrison Ainsworth's 1840 novel (Credit: Wikipedia)

"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot."

This is a classic playground rhyme learned by every British school child. It marks an important event that took place 407 years ago today. But what's it all about?

Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night and Fireworks night) is celebrated in Great Britain on November 5. It commemorates the failed plot to assassinate King James I on November 5, 1605 at the official state opening of Parliament. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords, killing the King and all the dignitaries present.

Guy was arrested following a 'tip to the authorities while guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder that had been smuggled into the House of Lords. He, along with his fellow co-conspirators, was executed.

In the years following the foiled attempt, people lit bonfires and burned effigies of Guy Fawkes. To this day, people all over the UK commemorate with public or private firework parties and bonfires. Continue reading "Guy Fawkes: Remembering what?" »

4    Jul 20120 comments

4th of July: Star-spangled family fun!

Today is Independence Day in the US. It is always marked with fun-filled activities, including parades, barbecues, picnics, and the all-important fireworks displays.

What’s your most memorable 4th of July family memory?

We may celebrate at a lake, at the beach, in a backyard or at a neighborhood park. It’s always a day for family and friends to gather. No matter what was going on in other parts of the world (see newspaper article from 1940 below), this holiday was celebrated to remind us of the freedoms we enjoyed at home.

My grandparents owned a large property with some 80 summer rental cottages, about two hours north of New York City. Many of the same families returned year after year, and we became a close group as we  grew up together.

My grandmother organized the two main summer events:  4th of July at the season's opening, and the Labor Day festivities in early September, signaling the end of our carefree summer, returning to the city and getting ready for school.

In the faux Tudor “big house,” Grandma's big country kitchen sported a black cast iron stove, the source of everything delicious! Every year, she produced buckets of the most delicious coleslaw, potato and macaroni salads.

Continue reading "4th of July: Star-spangled family fun!" »

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