Guy Fawkes Night was one of things I was most looking forward to while studying in London this fall. I guess it is equivalent to our fourth of July. The days building up to the 5th of November were already very exciting. From my campus in Harrow, I watched fireworks in the distance shoot up from three different directions. It was so cool.
“Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot.” I first heard that line in the blockbuster film V for Vendetta starring Natalie Portman. On the fifth of November, Brits celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, otherwise known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night. Originally, it was a celebration of the failed attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605 by Guy Fawkes and a group of English Catholics. Ironically, Bonfire Night now praises the villain Guy Fawkes.
In the supermarket, a holiday stand popped up, selling different kinds of fireworks, which I found odd. Back home in New Jersey it’s illegal to light up your own fireworks, even in the suburbs. I thought it was even weirder that they would allow fireworks in a big city like London.
On the fifth of November, my friends and I hopped on the tube and headed to Southwark to watch the fireworks. Little kids surrounded a small lake waiting for the light display. Adults watched a performer spin a ring of fire around his body. I had a bite at the food stands where they were selling churros dipped in chocolate.
At 7:30 p.m. the first fireworks burst into the air. Then, they all popped at once, shimmering in the night sky. The heart-shaped fireworks were my favorite. You could hear everyone in the crowd say “awwww” as the light transformed into the familiar figures. It was like I was experiencing Independence Day for the second time this year. At the same time, this wasn’t the usual warm night of fireworks I was used to.
I missed home—just a little bit. I was nostalgic over the deep fried Oreos, carnivals, and shorts and t-shirts. Then, I looked at the new friends I made. When I’m back home and looking at fireworks I will think about this moment. I will think about the great churros, heart-shaped fireworks, and my cold fingers. I’ll miss all of this, too.