Wicker Man and Guy Fawkes

by Gethin Thomas November. 05, 2020 444 views

[92-365] 5th. November 2020- Today is the 5th November and possibly for the first time ever, apart from maybe during the war there will be no bonfires or fireworks.

A natural progression from my last wicker post happened by accident this morning. I went outside to put some flower bulbs in the ground, (maybe also symbolic as planting for next years crop?) a job I don't enjoy. I do enjoy it months later though when they suddenly appear from nowhere after you had forgotten about them. While out in the garage I discovered my other half had cut up our old laundry basket repurposing some as kindling and a bottle recycling container.

I suddenly had the idea of making a real wicker man from some real wicker, and then putting him in my wood burner tonight as a sort of Guy Fawkes substitute.

As you can probably tell I am very good with my hands and an expert with secateurs. Seriously though, he does look vaguely wicker man... ish so I was quite pleased.

What interests me about Guy Fawkes night is the fact that so many similar festivals happen at the same time of year that on the surface have no connection but when you analyse them there seems to be a common thread.

You have Halloween, Harvest Festival, Guy Fawkes Night, Thanksgiving all happening seasonally at the end of summer and going into winter. Halloween involves carving the head of a man out of a pumpkin and putting fire inside, Guy Fawkes involves setting fire to an effigy of a man and giving thanks, Guy Fawkes was instituted as a Thanksgiving festival, American Thanksgiving is obvious. In England we have Harvest Festival which involves Corn Dollies, small effigies woven out of straw, which is the equivalent of American Thanksgiving, offerings of food are also brought into the church and displayed.

It does make me wonder if all of these originate from the same ancient beliefs and superstitions which evolve over time into subtly different festivals.

The general theme seems to be thanks for a good harvest and offerings or sacrifices for a safe winter.

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Björn Roose 7 months, 1 week ago

I do think they all go back to Samhain.

We had our own processions in Flanders before the commercial Halloween crap took over in which we carried around a hollowed out beet with a candle in it, by the way. It was associated with Saint Martin's Day (November 11) in some way, but we walked on the night of October 31. The tradition still exists in exactly those villages who have Saint Martin as their protector, but Saint Martin nowadays is confused with Saint Nicolas and there's way more show around it. I remember we just walked in silence, with candles in our beets on a stick.

7 months, 1 week ago Edited
Gethin Thomas Replied to Björn Roose 7 months, 1 week ago

That's really interesting. So the carved pumpkin in the USA probably does originate in Europe where we didn't have pumpkins until much later.

A tradition that travelled to the USA changed vegetable and then travelled back.

7 months, 1 week ago Edited
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