Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Bonfire Night

With Bonfire Night falling this Friday I began looking for Firework Wines and the nearest I could come up with were DolceVita wines from Brazil with labels designed by Romulo Castilho which feature fireworks. I was quite surprised that given the diversity of modern wine labels out there I could not find more!

Rather than Mulled Wine this year I thought we would have a Hot Punch and this recipe is as delicious as it is warming:

12 lumps Sugar
2 Oranges
8 Cloves
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 stick Cinnamon
4 tbsp Water
2 Lemons
1 3/4 pints Cider
3 fl oz Rum
3 fl oz Brandy

Rub the sugar over the zest of one of the oranges and remove the zest. Cut this orange in halves, squeeze out the juice and put into a pan with the sugar. Cut the other orange into 8 sections, stick a clove into the skin of each section and sprinkle with the nutmeg. Add to the pan with the cinnamon, water and rind of the lemons cut into strips. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for 5 mins. Leave to cool and remove the cinnamon, pour in the cider and heat until really hot, but not boiling. Serve.

I have found out some facts about Bonfire Night that I hadn't heard of before. Did you know that until 1959, it was illegal not to celebrate the date of Guy Fawkes arrest in England? Also as late as 1998, the death penalty still existed in peacetime for the crimes of treason and piracy with violence in England and Wales? The guy on top of your bonfire was not originally put there to commemorate Guy Fawkes as you would think but Pope Paul V, who after the Gunpowder Plot refused to allow Catholics to take the oath of allegiance to the Crown. So, presumably, the traditional cry of 'Penny for the guy, mister?' was never uttered by children until relatively recently.

Centuries ago children were allowed free rein at this time as the night before Guy Fawkes' Night was known as Mischief Night, when groups of young children roamed their neighbourhood looking for mischief and playing pranks. Children would also blacken their faces as Guy Fawkes might have done when he waited to blow up Parliament. The bonfire was originally known as a 'bone fire', to signify the 'bones' of the effigy. However, bonfires had been burnt at this time of year long before Guy Fawkes' day as they were an essential part of Halloween, which falls less than a week earlier.

The ritual of fireworks is inextricably linked with Guy Fawkes' Night, but their origin is 6th-century China where, it is said, a cook had accidentally mixed and lit three common kitchen ingredients (potassium nitrate or saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal) within a bamboo shoot. (They don’t like common kitchen ingredients to me!) The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486. They became very popular during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and have been a tradition of Guy Fawkes' Night since 1677.

In Ottery St Mary, Devon, thousands congregate to watch barrels full of burning tar first being carried and then rolled up and down the streets and through the main square, an ancient tradition possibly pre-dating the Gunpowder Plot and more relevant to the ritual burning of witches. In many places you will find torchlight processions and bell-ringing (5 November is also known as Ringing Night), and at the State Opening of Parliament one of the annual ceremonies is the searching of the cellar by men in early-17th-century costumes.

We will be having a small family party but there are some great organised events around this weekend. However you celebrate Bonfire Night I hope you have fun and be safe!


lostpastremembered said...

We don't celebrate Guy Fawkes day here... what a pity with fires and fireworks... it sounds like great fun( but I don't believe the story about the kitchen ingredients mistake either... what on earth would you do that for???).

Pam said...

Never heard of the day but it sounds like great fun. We make Swedish Glogg at Christmas time and this sounds pretty close to it. Just missing the whiskey. Interesting post!

Sue said...

Why, Deanna - I always use sulphur in the kitchen ;-) . . . not! And the only charcoal around is when the kids burn the toast lol.

Swedish Glogg sounds scrumptious Pam!