Bonfire night facts
No winter is complete in the UK without a November 5th celebration. It would be strange to usher November in without a sparkler in your hand, watching a toasty bonfire or looking up at flourishing firework displays. At this time of year it’s always important to know how to stay safe around fireworks and bonfires, so we’ve put together some bonfire night safety advice along with some weird and wonderful facts about the celebration.
1. Fireworks were invented by a mistake in a kitchen
Fireworks were around long before we started celebrating November 5th. They were invented in the 10th century by a Chinese cook who accidentally combined 3 everyday kitchen ingredients. The cook then realised that burning the concoction in a hollow shoot of bamboo led to some explosive results! Fireworks are more advanced these days, but they’re still just as explosive, so that's why we always supervise children around fireworks and bonfires.
2. England’s first firework display was at a Royal wedding
We merry Englanders didn’t start using fireworks until the end of the 15th century. They were first used during the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486, and we’ve been crazy about them ever since! Back then people didn’t have to worry about electric cables or telephone wires getting in the way of their bonfire fun. That's no longer the case, so be sure there are no cables looming above your bonfire or fireworks.
3. Imagine having Royal Master of Fireworks on your CV
Did you know that Fireworks Master was a royal position? The job was created by Queen Elizabeth I to make sure that the firework displays were always well organised and monitored. Of course we can’t all be Royal Fireworks Masters but it’s just as important that we keep our own firework nights organised. Get the professional touch and take in a public firework display. Although if you do decide to put on your own, stay safe!.
4. Different countries use fireworks for different days
The USA goes crazy with fireworks on their Independence Day (4th July), and France favours them on Bastille Day (14th July). In China, fireworks – or Chinese crackers as they’re known – are used all the time to celebrate all sorts of religious festivals, with the added benefit that the fireworks scare off evil spirits! Unfortunately fireworks are similarly frightening for animals, so we always keep our pets safe indoors when we're celebrating.
5. The world’s largest fireworks show took 90 minutes
According to Guinness World Records, the largest ever fireworks display took place Søgne, Norway, on 29 November 2014. Organised by fellow Norwegians Svea Fyrverkerier and Sør-Tre, the display lasted a whopping 1 ½ hours with a grand total of 15,272 fireworks being set off. No one’s topped this extravaganza since then, but maybe November will see a new display taking home the crown. Whether you’re lighting 15 or 15,000 fireworks it’s important they conform to British Standards. If you’re not sure, check that they have BS 7114 written on the box.
6. One place in England won’t celebrate the 5th November
You’ve probably never heard of St Peter’s School in York, but it happens to be the only place in the country that refuses to celebrate the 5th November. Why are they so cold on the winter holiday? Well it turns out Guy Fawkes went to St Peter’s School as a boy. So they didn’t feel comfortable making bonfires to celebrate Fawkes’ foiling. They don’t celebrate the 5th November to this day. It’s always worth considering people may not be celebrating bonfire night so be sure to let your neighbours know what you’re planning so they’re in the know.
7. Not celebrating bonfire night used to be a crime
Until 1959 it was illegal not to celebrate bonfire night in England. Before the law was repealed, you would’ve gotten into some serious trouble if you weren’t around a bonfire on the 5th November. While we don’t have laws forcing you to celebrate, there are guides on how to stay safe when you’re celebrating. Have a look at the Firework Code and find out how to have a safe and spectacular 5th November.