Where Did the Word Bonfire Come from?
“Bonfire” literally means a “fire of bones.” Back in 16th century England, “bane” was a Scottish spelling of “bone.”
A bane fire was a fire used for burning corpses. Therefore, a bane fire was actually a “bonfire.” Hundreds of years ago, some people in Europe built large fires out of old bones. These fires were used for special celebrations and to keep away evil spirits.
Today, these large fires are built in the open air especially for our amusement and warmth. But instead of using bones, people burn sticks of wood, which are now called bonfires, instead of bone fires.