Posted Nov. 1, 2016
As an international Master of Laws student you may have only recently settled in the UK, and be curious to discover what the fuss regarding Bonfire Night is all about. You might even still be recovering from the annually increasing hype of Halloween – a much more internationally celebrated occasion than Bonfire Night – but that’s no reason why you can’t embrace a good old British tradition now you are an LLM student in the UK.
Fireworks Night, or Bonfire Night, is a UK tradition that originated over 400 years ago on the 5th November 1605 when Guy Fawkes, part of a failed conspiracy called the Gunpowder Plot, was caught guarding explosives under the House of Lords in Westminster. The group intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament, kill the protestant King James 1, and replace him with a catholic monarch. Henceforth, began the tradition of lighting bonfires on November 5th and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on the fire. Traditionally, children made a ‘Guy’ out of old clothes, stuffed with newspaper or straw, and asked passers-by for a “penny for the Guy,” before watching him set ablaze above the fire.
It may all appear rather gruesome to an outsider, but for most people these days, it has little to do with the preservation of a political institution, and everything to do with the thrill and beauty of watching a firework display light up the darkening autumn nights, just after the clocks have been turned back for winter. Bonfire night parties are usually accompanied by drinks, such as hot toddies, mulled wine or hot chocolate, and food including hot-dogs, toffee apples, toasted marshmallows and a traditional cake called parkin, made with black treacle and oats.
Therefore, being a busy LLM student, you’re likely to be concerned about juggling your precious time and not falling behind with your studies, luckily, because this year Bonfire Night falls on a Saturday, you can party guiltlessly without risk of it impinging on your important study time.
Students and families in private accommodation with a garden, can have their own private bonfire party, complete with a fireworks (making sure you adhere to all safety instructions) – and sparklers, for children (and adults) to swirl around the black sky. However, be careful not to ruin your lawn or cause any other damage – not to mention scare any nearby pets.
To keep things simple – especially if you’re new to the country and to this tradition – it’s probably a good idea to watch an organised displays, of which there are plenty to choose from, in most towns and cities. If you live in or around London there are plenty of great options to choose from – and some of them will be free of charge. If you’re happy to pay for a display, Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival is well worth a visit and this year will include spectacular displays on both Friday 4th and Saturday 5th. It’s set high on the hill of Alexandra Park in North London, overlooking the city, and is always choreographed to dramatic music, creating a great atmosphere. There is also a German beer festival in the palace, perfect for students who want to wash away their cares on a night that must always go off with a bang.
As a busy LLM student it’s important to get the right balance between studying hard and taking a break from it all – to ensure you keep on top of your game. So make sure you take a little bit of time out from your studies to enjoy some fireworks, and whatever you choose to do on Bonfire Night this year – make sure that you make it a night to remember!
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