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Date: 21/11/2012

Who Celebrates Bonfire Night across the Globe?

Since 1605, when the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and replace James I with a Catholic ruler was discovered, people have been celebrating the king's survival by burning stuffed effigies of Guy Fawkes on bonfires and holding fireworks displays.

Today, the sectarian aspect has largely diminished, although you do still hear of the burning of effigies of the Pope. In Lewes, Sussex, where the biggest bonfire celebration in the world is held, the event has become notorious for the burning of effigies of notable people. Although the Pope was often chosen in the past, today it's more often unpopular politicians or others in the public eye.

But where else in the world is the 5th of November celebrated? It tends to be places where British people settled and you'll find celebrations in countries with large communities of expats, although not so much in Catholic countries for obvious reasons.

Settlers in America celebrated 'Pope Day' as it was known, but the tradition died out after the American Revolution. The event is enjoyed in pockets of the more British parts of Canada, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and in South Africa you can find bonfire celebrations in cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. In New Zealand, Guy Fawkes Night is also seen as a celebration of the coming of summer and perhaps people are using the occasion to enjoy their relocation to a warmer part of the world.

You will also find 5th of November parties in places as far afield as Malaysia, France, San Francisco and Istanbul.

In many countries, firework-sale restrictions mean that parties at home aren't the norm. In Australia, firework sales are prohibited due to the danger of bush fires so the 5th of November celebration has largely fizzled out. Similar laws exist in Caribbean countries.

Travel Insurance Cover

But wherever you celebrate bonfire night, there is always some risk to safety when fires and fireworks are involved. Even the humble sparkler can cause nasty injuries. People visiting Lewes this year were advised to wear goggles and the number of calls to the emergency services always rises at this time of year. Party organisers, especially those who put on large fireworks displays, need to think carefully about health and safety. It's also important to make sure that the right kind of travel insurance cover is taken out, just in case something does go wrong.

However, whatever the risks, people do love this special night and it should be cherished as a uniquely British festival.