Bonfire Night

The few days before Hallowe'en and sometimes after it are called Mischief Week (or Mischief Night if it falls locally on a single date). Children have traditionally believed that there are certain kinds of mischief allowed at that time: stuffing sods in chimneys, soaping windows, taking pins from gate hinges, and so on. When combined with the local bonfire traditions, it might even include stealing old tires, fences and boats to make the bonfire bigger.

Fire traditions are generally popular in the province at this time of year: Torch Night is a name given to a date near Hallowe'en in Trinity Bay North: young men would carry torches around the community in a parade. In Old Perlican this was last seen about seventy years ago. Torches might be made from old boots soaked in fish oil, or half-barrels filled with kindling and oil, or old dried-up tar mops; in fact the name Tar Mop Night was used in the White Bay area. In many communities, the custom of torchlight parades died out around the same time as electricity came to the area.

Bonfires on November 5th in commemoration of the death of the anti-Parliamentary terrorist Guy Fawkes are still carried out every year in hundreds of communities around the province. Most present-day participants in the fires would be hard-pressed to say who Guy Fawkes was, and the custom mainly functions to help clean up communities.

- by Philip Hiscock, 1999, written for the Memorial Heritage Website:

Click here for Festival On Fire 2011 Information on Bonfires Near You!

Search the DAI/ICH Inventory Bonfire Night Collection