I have defined some of the words (underlined) in the blog post, which you can add to your Personal Dictionary. Click on the Excel icon to download the word list to your PC or mobile device, which you can thereafter import into your Personal Dictionary. They are also listed below.
Scroll down to the bottom for links to a crossword and word search using words from this post.
Trick or treat – said by children to ask for sweets when calling at someone’s home at Halloween
Utterance – the action of saying or expressing something aloud
Beg – ask someone earnestly or humbly for something
Effigy – a sculpture or model of a person
Plot – a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful
Assassinate – murder (an important person) for political or religious reasons
Thwart – prevent (someone) from accomplishing something
Foil – frustrate the efforts or plans of
Bonfire – a large open-air fire used for burning rubbish or as part of a celebration
Fireworks – exploding devices used for display or in celebrations
Wheelbarrow – a small cart with a single wheel for carrying loads in building work or gardening
Nursery rhyme – a simple traditional song or poem for children
Chagrin – annoyance or distress at having failed
Anonymous – a person not identified by name

Sitting here on November 1, a day after Halloween, I’m looking at a bowl of sweets (or candy if I was to use the American term), which is still relatively full, owing to the fact that we had a sum total of zero trick or treat visitors last night. When I was a boy, Halloween was something that primarily happened in American, which we only became aware of, when we saw the horror films of the same name which started in the late 1970s. For kids in The UK, Penny for the Guy, was quite literally on our lips, because this was the utterance we would use to beg for money. Why would kids be on the streets begging for money, I’m sure you’re asking yourself. Let me explain.

The ‘Guy’ in question, is a human-sized effigy, that we (badly) made to represent Guido Fawkes, aka Guy Fawkes, whose actions in 1605, are the reason we celebrate Bonfire Night on November 5th every year. Fawkes was a member of a group of 13 rebel Catholics, who plotted to assassinate the Protestant King James I, by placing explosives beneath the House of Lords, in an attempt to blow up Parliament. Fortunately, their plan was thwarted, and since then we have celebrated this foiled attempt, by building massive bonfires and letting off fireworks. We would put our ‘Guy’ in a wheelbarrow and walk from house to house, repeating the verses from the following nursery rhymes.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, Guy.
Hit him in the eye,
Hang him on a lamp-post
And leave him there to die.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll never get far
If you don’t put a penny in the old guy’s hat.
If you haven’t a penny a halfpenny will do;
If you haven’t a halfpenny, God bless you.  

The coins we collected were used to purchase fireworks with, but from memory, we never got enough money to buy many. Therefore, we used to go along to watch firework displays organised by the local fire brigades at their fire stations and in parks. Nowadays, Bonfire Night is spread over a number of days, depending on what weekday November 5 falls on, much to the chagrin of pet owners, who worry about the noise of the fireworks scaring their cats and dogs for days on end.

In popular culture, Guy Fawkes (pictured above) is associated with the anti-establishment, and protesters use masks, depicting his face, to remain anonymous. Due to the current unpopularity of the British government, some people welcome a present-day Guy Fawkes attempt, which I’d prefer not to comment on, so will end here.


To test your knowledge, why not do a crossword puzzle, using words from this text?

Click here for instructions on how to play.

To test your knowledge, why not do a word search puzzle, using words from this text?

Click here for instructions on how to play.

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