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Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Thursday, 4 November 2010
A Traditional Guernsey bonfire night
Fireworks
Guernsey has a long tradition of celebrating with fire

It may now be seen as a fun occasion for fireworks but bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes night, has a much deeper history.

In Guernsey its origins stretch back even further than the 17th Century rebel to the island's Viking heritage as Budloe Night.

Bill Gallienne of La Société Guernesiaise said: "It was originally to celebrate the end of the year."

He added: "It was a pagan festival where a Yule log would be burnt."

Bill explained that in those times "fire was a cleansing thing and prepared for the new year".

The Viking connection to Guernsey stems from the island's association with Normandy, which was conquered and populated by the Norsemen, from which the term Norman was derived.

Viking long ship
Bill suspects the Budloe night tradition stems from our Viking ancestors

Bill suggested the burning of the log may have derived from the Viking tradition of burning long ships which is still re-enacted in parts of Scandinavia and Scotland.

Bill said these original Budloe festivals would have been very similar to modern Guy Fawkes night, just they would have happened later in the year.

He said: "There would have been a big fire, burning the log, eating, drinking, everybody decorated and dressed up and, I can imagine, having a really good night."

Since the English tradition for Guy Fawkes night came about Bill said it took over from the end of year Budloe celebrations but retained many of the same things until relatively recent times.

Bill Galliene
Bill remembers elaborate celebrations of Budloe night from his youth

He said: "It was well celebrated in Guernsey and right up until after the war there were big cavalcades of people all dressed up."

These parades often included people in fancy dress "you just wore anything weird to have good fun", and horses and carts parading around the lanes of the island and even in and out of people's houses!

Since the war the large scale celebrations have declined and the focus has now become a more standardised bonfire and fireworks party, but, Bill said it was a shame to see the traditional celebrations falling by the way side.

What are your memories of Budloe night in Guernsey in years past?



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