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How to Celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in America

By The Second City | Nov 5, 2013

If you’re like me, you have no idea what the f*** Guy Fawkes Night is.

I only learned of the “holiday” (also known as “Bonfire Night”) last week, when my Catholic dad asked if I’d be doing anything to mark the occasion. He presented it to me as an anti-Catholic pagan ceremony that used to include effigy burnings of Pope dolls and is basically an all-out assault against the family’s religion.

Tonight, in my adopted city of London, I am celebrating my first-ever Guy Fawkes Night.

The holiday originated in Great Britain after a man named Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the House of Lords, but was arrested when he was found hoarding explosives. Thus, the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was foiled. To honor the survival of King James, people lit bonfires. Huzzah!

Not unlike our Thanksgiving, almost all aggressive traces of the day have been eradicated. It’s a Kingdom-wide festival of fireworks, bonfires and lots of alcohol. Americans might be binge drinkers, but Brits are the beer bong-sucking frat-tastic older brothers to our high school freshmen. They put our binging habits to shame. To shame.

So what does it take to observe a British holiday in America, for those of you not across the pond?

Here’s a 6-step guide to dominating Guy Fawkes Night in America.

1. Dress Up Like a Famous Brit

I know you’re over dressing up, what with the overabundance of Roy Lichtenstein Chicken Pox-y Girls there was for Halloween last week. But to pay tribute properly,  you must dress up like a famous Brit. Here are a few suggestions: Margaret Thatcher, Mick Jagger, Baby Spice, Colin Firth, Boris Johnson or Madonna (she’s British – right?!?).

2. Go to Home Depot

Once you’ve chosen a famous Brit persona, make your way to the nearest Home Depot and purchase a deluxe barbecue pit, lighter fluid and charcoal.

3. Go to Jewel 

Fill your cart with the following essentials: Oscar Mayer hot dogs (because let’s be real– you will need sustenance to fuel the intense celebrating), Nutella (so Euro), Newcastle beer (a Brit import), English breakfast tea and some Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion chips.

4. Important Re: Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion Chips

You must refer to them as “crisps,” as they do in the UK. As in, “I am bored out of my mind and I’d rather be watching Half Baked instead of sitting in front of this fire… please pass me the crisps.”

5. Go Home…

…And fire up that new barbecue pit, old chap! Throw on the hot dogs and create a roaring fire that’s sure to alarm your neighbors. Before the garage accidentally catches fire and you’re arrested for arson, bust out your boom box and blare the Clash’s British anthem, “London Calling.”

6. Don’t Go Quietly

As they haul you away, affect your best British accent and cry out, “Merry Christmas, Guy Fawkes! I hope you’re having fun with Tupac in the afterlife!”


Anne McCarthy is a writer living in London who boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of American celebrities. One of her British friends even calls her “You Crazy American!” Anne is a graduate of the Writing and Improv programs at the Second City Training Center and a former Night Staff host. She is the author of “Big Macs in Paris.” And she has yet to see any celebrities in London.


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