November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day! This holiday celebrates the foiling of a revolutionary plot to blow up Parliament in 1605. Guy himself was a minor player in the drama, but since he was the one discovered guarding the pile of explosives sitting underneath King James and most of the British government, he gets to be commemorated forever with a holiday that involves burning him in effigy. Doubtful fame, indeed.
On Guy Fawkes day, giant bonfires are erected all over England and topped with “the Guy,” who is then set on fire. People gather to light fireworks and celebrate together. Our Resident British History Smarty-Pants Sister (and history professor) Katie Nelson tells us, “Now it’s a holiday for candied apples, a big bonfire and fireworks. But historically speaking, the holiday seems to serve the same purpose as Carnivale or ‘Topsy Turvy Day,’ where social roles are reversed and the masses get to publicly revile ‘The Man’ in whatever incarnation. At the most famous celebration of Guy Fawkes Day in England, the town burns effigies of whomever they deem to be ‘enemies of the people.’ I’m always curious to see who they will choose each year!”
And if you want to add to the personal fun of the day, you can take a cue from the yearly celebrations hosted by Professor Nelson and her husband, Professor Nelson. Encourage guests to write their troubles on a paper and slip it into the fire to burn up with the Guy and get a fresh start this Fall.
Celebrating Guy Fawkes day is an easy and fun tradition to start with your own kids (who generally love any holiday that involves setting things on fire) and the food traditions associated with it are equally kid-friendly. Soup or sausages cooked outside and enjoyed around the bonfire are followed by candy apples.
Candy apples may look intimidating, but are actually pretty simple to make with only a few ingredients. (It will be much easier if you have a candy thermometer.) Of course, if your kids are bigger fans of the caramel-apple variety, you can substitute those. We promise we won’t tell.
Guy Fawkes Day Candy Apples
15 small apples, thoroughly washed and dried (the candy won’t stick if the apples are too waxy!)
2 cup sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1 1/2 c water
red food coloring (if desired)
Insert popsicle sticks or craft sticks into apples. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper to hold drying apples, or lightly grease a cookie sheet.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Using a candy thermometer, watch heat closely, stirring occasionally. Heat to 300 – 310 degrees F (149 to 154 degrees C), or until a small amount of the syrup dropped into cold water immediately forms hard, brittle threads. (This will take a long time, but watch it carefully. Once it hits 250 degrees it will jump to 300 really fast!)
Remove from heat and stir in food coloring, if desired.
Using the stick to hold the apples, dip each one in the syrup and set on parchment or the greased cookie sheet to harden.
*note–this recipe can be doubled, but it’s easier to make separate batches as the candy hardens too fast to coat that many apples.
Remember, remember the 5th of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
should ever be forgot…
Want more? Check out our Pinterest page for more ways to celebrate Guy Fawkes day.