Bonfire Festivals Around The World
Bonfire night is an event which takes place across many different places around the world at various times of the year. We take a look at a few of the events which take place and how the tradition is celebrated.
Guy Fawkes Night – 5th November
Remember Remember the 5th November …. so the rhyme goes although bonfires and firework events are usually held throughout the week and at weekends around this date.
The origin of the event comes from the Gunpowder Plot, the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and his associates to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605.
Apart from being a large public event in the UK, some commonwealth countries such as Canada and New Zealand also celebrate this tradition on the 5th November. Settlers exported the tradition when they migrated overseas. In Australia, the event used to be commemorated but the risk of bush fires in the height of summer is said to have been a factor. In addition, the sale of fireworks to the general public in Australia is banned.
The majority of people attending tend to go to either an organised public firework displays or a private family bonfire party. Make sure to be take care when at these events, some bonfire night tips can be found here: http://www.bonfire-night-safety.co.uk/. Also make sure to look after your pets and keep them indoors as they may be scared of the firework noises and loud bangs.
Walpurgis Night – 30th April or 1st May
Walpurghis night is a spring festival held in many Scandinavian countries on either the 30th April or the 1st May, six months from Halloween. It usually involves bonfires and dancing,
The tradition is named after Saint Walpurga, an English missionary from the 8th century. It celebrates the arrival of Spring and is often a public event, bringing communities together. Singing and dancing are popular activities associated with this night and many choirs perform and sing traditional songs at this time.
St John’s Eve – 23rd June
St John’s Eve is usually commemorated with a bonfire, St John’s Fire. It has religious roots like many bonfire festivals. It is a Saint’s day to mark the birth of St John the Baptist. Fire, water and plants are symbols associated with this day which often coincides with other midsummer celebrations.
The event is celebrated in Estonia where it is called Jaanipaev, France (Fete de la Saint-Jean), in Quebec in Canada, some rural parts of Ireland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Scandanavia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Spain and some parts of Louisiana in the USA.
St John’s Eve is a popular local tradition in Puerto Rico as San Juan is the patron saint of the Island and the name of the capital city. During Noche de San Juan Bautista, at midnight, participants in the festival go to a beach and dip themselves in the water three times in a row. This is said to cleanse and to bring good luck. Overall, it is a community celebration which many families take part in.