As he sat beside a chalk-drawn bonfire, Seth Brummond, a regular Günter Hans customer, chanted, “Remember, remember the fifth of November.”
People all over the world were chanting the same phrase on Monday, Nov. 5, including the customers of Günter Hans, an artisan-style European restaurant and bar opened by Lydia Melton in September of this year.
The fifth of November marks a British observance day called Guy Fawkes, also known as Bonfire Night. Guy Fawkes Night is the annual commemoration of the time that a man almost destroyed the British Parliament.
People residing in the UK celebrate the day with beverages, laughter, fireworks and burning effigies, or dummies, in bonfires.
While she couldn’t have a bonfire in the middle of town, Melton did her best to bring the UK holiday to Columbia, Mo. The City of Columbia refused her request for a bonfire the night of Nov. 5. However, Melton improvised with a drawing of a bonfire on her chalk wall.
“What Günter Hans is pretty much doing today is, we’re having a British tap takeover to celebrate it,” Melton said. “Slowly and maturely, the British beers have been taking over what is typically our German tap system.”
Melton said that in 1605, Guy Fawkes and 12 other conspirators decided they wanted to use gunpowder to blow up the British Parliament and King James I at the State Opening of Parliament.
The motivation behind their violent idea was simple: religious intolerance. The conspirators, led by Robert Catesby, were Catholic. They felt they needed to take action because the Protestant King James I was persecuting members of their faith.
Among the 13 conspirators was a man named Guy Fawkes. In the early hours of Nov. 5, 1605, Fawkes was caught by authorities in the cellar of the parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes was then tortured and executed along with his conspirator peers.
“They hung him and quartered him,” Melton said.
In the 1600s, quartering criminals was only common if the crime was treason, according to capitalpunishmentuk.org. Authorities took the criminal’s arms and legs and tied them to four horses. As they yelled “mosh,” the horses took off in different directions, which left the body “quartered.”
“They let his (Fawkes) body parts drag to opposite ends of the country so that everyone would know that you do not betray England,” Melton said. “This is what happens to traitors.”
After collecting Fawkes’ body parts, a huge bonfire was built to burn his body. The bonfire is a significant symbol for this holiday because on the very same night the Gunpowder Plot was unfolding, bonfires were set all across England to celebrate the safety of King James I.
Today, the holiday is named after Guy Fawkes instead of the conspirators’ leader, Robert Catesby, because Fawkes was the reason the plan failed and ultimately saved the king.
Today, Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated with fireworks and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
“Well, we’re not burning people here, and there’s no gunpowder,” Melton said. “We’re just celebrating with different beers.”
Although she couldn’t have a bonfire to commemorate the holiday, Melton did bring some British history to Columbia and to her customers.
For Brummond, Guy Fawkes Night, provided a good reason to sit at the bar enjoying his British ale while celebrating with his friends.
“Günter Hans has an awesome selection of British beverages this evening,” Brummond said. “I’m really enjoying kind of what they have going on today.”