Frances Dumlao headshot

Feeling Nostalgic at Guy Fawkes Night in London

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.

To Southwark for Guy Fawkes Night

By Frances Dumlao ’15

“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.