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Nostalgia: Whatever happened to Penny for the Guy?


Article by Ceri Wheeldon.
Midst wardrobe clearout over the weekend, just as an old suit and shirt of OH arrived on the ‘out’ pile,  I had a fleeting childhood memory of begging my father of any old clothes to make a ‘Guy’. Happy hours were spent, with my father’s help stuffing shirts and trousers with old newspapers, making a papier mache head, and trundling the guy around neighbours houses to raise funds for the latest school or brownie project.

The culmination of ‘penny for the guy’ was of course placing him on the  bonfire on Guy Fawkes night.

Guy Fawkes Night

Instead of Halloween, we always celebrated Guy Fawkes night on the 5th of November. I can still remember the celebrations. All the neighbours arriving with a box of fireworks, sparklers being handed to the children. Toffee Apples, mugs of hot soup and hot chocolate were consumed while we were all sat on makeshift benches, placed well away from the fireworks, as the Dads created our firework display at the far end of the garden and the mums hovered in the kitchen sipping sherry .

I was always sad to see my ‘guy’ smoulder away, but always had next year to look forward to. Does anyone still celebrate Guy Fawkes? At what point did Halloween take over as the seasonal celebration and carved pumpkins and ‘trick or treating’ take over?

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Ross

    October 23, 2013

    I am trying to survey the survival of the Penny for the guy tradition across the UK to work out if there are any patterns or strongholds. The website blurb goes as following:
    Penny for the guy sighting project

    In the weeks before Bonfire or Guy Fawkes’ Night children could be seen on street corners, outside shops, schools, parks and basically everywhere with a crude effigy crying “Penny For the Guy”….then they appeared to disappear or have they?

    Is it a dying or dead tradition everywhere? This project aims to catalogue sightings.
    I am trying to survey the survival of this custom and the intention of this blog is for people to add sightings so that the present survival can be assessed. Is the tradition healthier in the North or the South? What do the Guys look like? How old are the children and so on? That’s why if you see one please make comment on the website http://pixyledpublications.wordpress.com/ all entries gratefully received.all the best

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