Remember, remember the 5th of November.. is the saying that goes with this night. Bonfire night is a very British tradition. What it means to those who don't know, is a rememberance of the gunpowder plot to blow up the houses of parliament by Guy Fawkes and crew. The political meaning is probably lost on most people now, and its mainly a celebration of fire and fireworks.
From Wikipedia (since I'm not British and had to look it up!):
Guy Fawkes is most famous for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which he was placed in charge of executing because of his military and explosives experience. The plot, masterminded by Robert Catesby, was a failed attempt by a group of English Roman Catholic conspirators to kill King James I of England (VI of Scotland), his family, and most of the aristocracy in one swoop by blowing up the (now demolished) House of Lords building in the Houses of Parliament during its State Opening.
So he didn't get away with it and every 5th November, a tradition of making 'Guy's', little stuffed effigies, and burning them in the bonfire carries on--- in case anyone else gets ideas above their station! My husband, although british, is not a big fan of this night and doesn't really want our children to be brainwashed into it-although of course they do learn about it (and what a bad 'guy' he was- according to my son) at school. I was suprised to learn that the Smiths had carved into their vinyl records 'Strangeways Here We Come', the sentence 'Guy Fawkes was a genius' I don't have my record collection anymore sadly, when Cd's became easier to transport. I also discovered that Guy Fawkes appeared in the 2002 list of the BBC's 100 Greatest Britons, alongside people like Winston Churchill. I doubt that these things are talked about in school.
Anyway, I think this could be turned into a really wonderful tradition to welcome in the winter dark nights, say, with a bonfire and fireworks, kids games, traditional food -roasted chestnuts etc. as it is now, WITHOUT the burning men. It really is a bit gruesome in some ways, but I guess its also a lot like Halloween when you might see stuffed effigies hanging from doorways etc...
Nevertheless, we attended one last year, since that was my first experience of it-- and my son's as well. But now with the baby, a loud, crowded fireworks affair isn't really desirable. But like the 4th of July when home-produced firework displays carry on well past their welcome, we will still be able to see several displays from our windows.