Last Updated on November 9, 2020
Media reports that Brits are setting fireworks to celebrate Joe Biden’s “victory” are massively overstated, with Bonfire Night being celebrated this week.
Mainstream news outlets prematurely called the election for Biden on Saturday, despite there being a number of states that are going to recounts, like Georgia and Pennyslvania, and with other states, such as Arizona and Nevada, being too close to call at the time of writing.
These same mainstream news outlets then also declared the rest of the world was celebrating the apparently imminent departure of President Trump from the White House.
“Fireworks lit up the night sky over London, England, after Joe Biden was characterized to be the apparent winner of the presidential election,” wrote ABC, while The Hill declared that “fireworks [were seen] in London, Edinburgh, as Biden win celebrated abroad.” Slate collated some of the “best celebrations of Donald Trump’s electoral defeat,” arguing that “the rest of the world is also glad to get rid of Trump.”
— The Hill (@thehill) November 8, 2020
They included a few tweets from Brits with videos and reports of fireworks supposedly celebrating Biden’s ascension:
Fireworks in London. This isn’t a US celebration, it’s a worldwide one. Let the healing begin.
— Lauren S. Hissrich (@LHissrich) November 7, 2020
— Nikki Baughan (@NikkiBaughan) November 7, 2020
Even here in the UK my neighbours are setting of fireworks and shouting in celebration of Biden’s win pic.twitter.com/5GVv3HokHe
— N.B 🥔 (@Eternal_Stress) November 7, 2020
— ✪ Sara ✪ (@SaraGuitaray) November 7, 2020
— Sebastian Pohl (@SebastianPohl) November 7, 2020
However, what these outlets failed to mention is that it is highly unlikely any of the firework displays included in their reporting had anything to do with the American election.
November 5th is Bonfire Night in the United Kingdom, where Brits celebrate the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and assassinate King James I in 1605 by Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators. Traditionally, bonfires would be built, and a model of Guy burned on the 5th, and the celebrations would be complete with fireworks.
In modern times, the party is sometimes shifted to the Friday or Saturday if the 5th falls on a work day, so people have time to celebrate properly. Others celebrate at any point during the week, especially if they have spare fireworks. Brits would have seen fireworks go off across the country all from at least Monday through Saturday last week, this author included.
It didn’t take long therefore, for Brits to pick up on the reporting, and begin mocking it:
Umm… you guys should deffo google what happens around this time in November in London every year… https://t.co/L8wyCBZ29b
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) November 7, 2020
Sixteen million followers. And they now all know you’re thick as mince. 😂😂😂
— Dick Delingpole (@DickDelingpole) November 8, 2020
Oh honey, this is to celebrate something quite different. Google it: it’s crazy.
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) November 8, 2020
IT’s CALLED BON FIRE NIGHT!!!
Or do you yanks eat turkey in November in celebration of our Christmas light switch ons???…
— Donella Frump (@Rogers_Forager) November 8, 2020
Fun fact: #BonfireNight was widely celebrated in the 13 colonies, and was an especially big deal in Massachusetts. George Washington ordered people to stop marking it because he hoped to win Canada, with its sizeable Catholic population, to the revolution. pic.twitter.com/s60mNBci4U
— Daniel Hannan (@DanielJHannan) November 8, 2020
— Pete D’Abrosca (@pdabrosca) November 8, 2020
“I live in Paris, I didn’t hear a single bell ringing, I went to check the news to see if it was me who heard nothing, not one article about a single bell ringing, so it’s either a very isolated church no one gives a shit about or it’s plain old storytelling,” one commentor said.
Another added that due to the strong French separation of Church and State, “we’d never ring the bells of any church for an election, especially not a foreign one.” Someone else replied that there is a video circulating showing ringing bells, but that they’re “obviously not for Biden. It’s either Vespers or some say it was in remembrance of the victimes of the attack in the church in Nice.”
“In any case, it’s infuriating to see Americans once again think the world revolve around them and that we would ring bells for their election,” they added.