Bonfire Night - the Facts
On 5 November, many of us in Poynton will be faced with a choice. Some will make the journey to Poynton Park to watch one of the professional firework displays. Others will gather in small huddles in back gardens watching their own fireworks go off, or maybe even fizzle out with little to show for the high price tag! Some will simply ignore it all and watch the telly!
Others will have no choice but to grin and bear it. They dread this season with its incessant noise, late night explosions and unexpected loud bangs! In the days when we had an extremely large dog, we were definitely in this latter group. Every year at this time, he would become very restless and distressed and would yelp and howl as fireworks went off and as the sky was illuminated with flashes of coloured light. We needed to comfort him throughout the neighbourhood celebrations, often into the early hours of the next day. Also, that which used to be a one-night event started to extend from the end of October until up to a fortnight later as bonfires and fireworks were used to add a bit of sparkle to birthday parties and other celebrations around that time of year. He was a lot of dog to comfort and after our many years of dreading this season in the year, it was a huge blessing when he went deaf! Once again we were able to join in with the fun!
Over the centuries, the first week in November has been a time of festivals marking the end of the harvest and the start of the winter. There's ‘All Saints Day’, ‘All Hallows’ or ‘Hallowmas’ on 1st Nov and it's from this day that 31st Oct gained the name of ‘All Hallows Eve’ or ‘Halloween’. ‘All Souls Day’ is on 2nd Nov and 4th Nov is 'Mischief Night’, although the influence of the American “Trick or Treat” tradition at Halloween, means many believe it falls at the end of October’, but 4th Nov is the correct date. And then of course there’s ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ on 5th November with its bonfires and fireworks.
Many of us were brought up with the rhyme “Remember, Remember the Fifth of November” and certainly the festivities of 5th Nov continue to catch the imagination of the population and keep the cash registers ringing! Over the years it has become an institution, celebrated with ever-increasing amounts of noise, and bigger, brighter and more expensive displays of fireworks each year. This year marks its 400th anniversary! Certainly, to me, it all seems 400 times as loud as it was when I was a child!
‘Bonfire Night’ is related to the ancient Celtic New Year festival of ‘Samhain’, when bonfires formed an important part of the celebrations. It just so happened that in 1605, a terrorist by the name of Guy Fawkes, along with twelve others, chose the date of 5th November to make an attempt to overthrow the King James I of England and VI of Scotland. The plan was to explode the parliamentary buildings. Guy Fawkes was a Roman Catholic who was angered by the King, who although he was the son of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, failed to encourage toleration of Roman Catholics in the land. The plot was discovered, Guy Fawkes and Co were executed as traitors. Guy Fawkes’ name was given to future 5th November celebrations, which sadly, for a long time afterwards, became strongly associated with anti-Catholic sectarianism.
It is a great blessing that gradually over the centuries, the 5th November date shed its sectarian focus and is now just regarded as an opportunity for good old family fun and exciting displays of fireworks. Sectarianism and division was never in God’s plan for His people. Psalm 133:1 reads "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" God has firmly promised to bless unity, and the village of Poynton has a particularly strong cross-denominational church unity. Churches Together in Poynton involvement in community events is becoming increasingly common with involvement at the Poynton Show and the WWII British Legion celebrations in the past few weeks. Only recently, a group of around 90 ladies from the Poynton churches enjoyed another weekend away together in Oswestry (see photographs below). Each of Poynton’s denominational groups was represented that weekend, believing that rather than focussing on our different traditions and styles of worship, it is far better to celebrate our faith in one Lord and the areas where we are of one heart and one mind. In the eyes of God of course, every Christian is part of the same family. There are no divisions in His Kingdom.
The denominations work alongside each other, enjoying strong friendships and fellowship. Not only do all the ministers regularly meet together to pray and support one other, but they also discuss and plan how the churches may best serve the wider local community in Poynton. None of us wants to be regarded as part of a clique that gathers together simply to look after ourselves.
We understand that the church has a wider role in the community, and so if you live in the Poynton community and there are things you feel the church could do to serve the community, do let us know, or, if you have a personal need for support, practical help or prayer, please email admin @ pcfpoynton.org.uk and your message will be passed on to the appropriate person.
Poynton Christian Fellowship