Celebrating Guy Fawkes a bit odd and vaguely anti-catholic

guy fawkes

As the 21st Century progresses and tensions between Catholics and Protestants fade, we’re left with children asking “Penny for the Guy”.

Victoria University historian Grant Morris says that, although the Guy Fawkes celebration is now stripped of its original meaning, “it retains that anti-Catholic title.”

He says it is a “bit odd” the celebration of Guy Fawkes continues because “Catholicism is now the largest Christian denomination in New Zealand.”

Wellington’s mayor is pulling the plug on the city’s 22-year-old Guy Fawkes festival in favour of the Māori New Year festival, Matariki.

Justin Lester said Matariki ought to be a cornerstone celebration, rather than Guy Fawkes which marks “the anniversary of an attempt to blow up British parliament more than 400 years ago.”

Morris says Guy Fawkes was once a significant sectarian celebration.

“In New Zealand early on there was that sectarian tension, so it would have meant more to those settlers, would have meant more to a Protestant settler what they were celebrating in relation to Guy Fawkes, but also to a Catholic settler what they weren’t celebrating.”

In the mid-to-late 19th Century, the Freemasons and the Orange Order would have marched in recognition of the day.

And Catholics in New Zealand at the time would have been uncomfortable and wary, Morris says.

Writing in the Guardian about the residual prejudice against Catholics in the UK, Catherine Pepinster says it comes from those who are avowedly secular.

“It was apparent in protests during Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit in 2010.

“Hideous caricatures of the pope appeared on the streets – of the German pope carrying a swastika rather than a crucifix. Catholicism seems fair game.”



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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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