Guy Fawkes Night

The air outside is filled with the smell of bonfires and the sound of fireworks. Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, is a staple of the autumn season in Britain celebrated annually on November 5th.

“It’s kind of like the version of the Fourth of July. But instead of waving flags and drinking beer, we burn effigies and eat bangers and mash. I know it sounds weird, but truly, it is one of the things I miss most about living in England, and I think the rest of the world should get in on the action.” – Lena Smith

“As a school child, Guy Fawkes Night meant crafting your very own little effigy to be burned on the bonfire later that night.  During the twentieth century, some people made effigies or “Guys” to represent contemporary political figures they disliked. If that feels too aggressive for you, try writing out a list of things you’re worried about and burning that instead.” – Alexa Graham


How to Celebrate:

  • Bangers & Mash, Sausage Rolls, Baked Beans, Shepherds Pie, Toad in the Hole or Chili
  • Caramel or Candy Apples, Parkin (ginger cake) or Treacle (bonfire toffee)
  • Apple Cider, Mulled Wine or Winter Pimm’s
  • Creating huge bonfires
  • Lighting fireworks and sparklers
  • Making an effigy or list to burn


Gillian lives in England.  In Yorkshire, it is traditional to eat Parkin at this time of year and this authentic recipe was given to her over a few generations. This Parkin is legendary in the family.

“I have lived in Yorkshire for twelve years now and I only last year realized that this is a local custom. I have spent a couple of Bonfire Nights at my friend’s house (she is also proper born and bred Yorkshire, unlike newcomers like me) and she would always want to know who was bringing the Parkin. Why all this fuss about Parkin, I thought? I just assumed she really liked it. But no, it’s tradition. And I love traditions. It’s also popular to have pie and peas on Bonfire Night here, but I prefer the custom that involves cake.  As a child, I remember eating baked potatoes and hot dogs – basically food that was warming but easy to eat outside without too much need for plates or cutlery, while standing around a big fire and watching fireworks. My Mum, who grew up in London, remembers her mother making a huge tray of gingerbread every year for the 5th November, and remembers always being given “Bonfire Toffee” which is toffee made with treacle as far as I can tell.”


“Parkin is sticky and chewy with a texture somewhere between cake and flapjack, and the treacle and ginger give it a sweet and smoky flavor that is perfect for this time of year. It is unusual in that it tastes better when you leave it a week or two. Fresh from the oven it tastes nice; but when wrapped and stored in a tin for a while the flavors infuse and it becomes the most delicious moist, dark affair.” 

You need:
4 oz or 110 grams self raising flour
4 oz or 110 grams butter
8 oz or 225 grams oats
3 oz or 80 grams sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
4 oz or 110 grams golden syrup
4 oz or 110 grams treacle
1/4 pint or 150 ml milk
  • Pre-heat the oven to 130°C or 260°F.
  • Grease and line a square and fairly deep baking tin or dish.
  • Combine the flour and butter until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Add the oats, sugar and ginger and mix well.
  • In a saucepan, warm the syrup and treacle, then add the milk and stir.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well.
  • Scrape into your prepared tin and bake for around one hour. It may need up to one and a half hours.



Source: Tales from a Happy House

Photography: Rachel with Baking Bright


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