Burn the rat: Bonfire Night in Eyam

Glowing embers are dancing overhead, lifted by the breeze blowing our direction from the bonfire. The sky is as if illuminated by the powerful flames. And there is a jazz band playing a happy melody, while the crowd chants along: "Burn the rat, burn the rat..." For there, atop this magnificent bonfire, sits a huge rat, the flames slowly eating into its willow-and-paper body, its eyes still glowing red.

This is Bonfire Night in Eyam. A torch-lit procession with the band on a float at its helm led us to the playing fields via the village, which is known for its sad backstory of the Great Plague. Here, the ceremonial burning of the rat began, to commemorate the Plague-infected fleas that arrived in Eyam in the 1600s in a bundle of cloth from a London tailor. This evening there is certainly a happier story to tell.

Faces are lit up by handheld torches, which are glowing - if a litte precariously - among the crowd. Horse boxes serving refreshments (pumpkin soup, hot dogs, bonfire toffee and similar) are lined up along the periphery. As the bonfire finally reaches its full force, flinging warmth out among us, the fireworks display kicks off in a riot of colour above the beautiful Peaks landscape. The chants of 'Burn the rat' have been replaced by crackling and hissing. "Me no like fireworks," protests Tim's three-year-old niece Charlotte, her fingers firmly stuck in her ears. But even she looks in awe of the spectacle before us - that has certainly turned out to be one of my more memorable November 5th's... 

Photo: Above Eyam, in daylight
© Emmy in Switzerland | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig