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Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

Where Did the Word Bonfire Come from?

Where Did the Word Bonfire Come from?

Keep reading to find out 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.

In ancient times, cattle were important symbols of wealth and status. Such cattle were led through the smoke of a bonfire. Couples who were to be wed on May Day would leap through the flames of the bonfire to seal their vows. Coals from a bonfire would be taken home to light the fires in family hearths. This practice was thought to bring good fortune.

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. Now you know where did the word bonfire come from.

Can bonfire smoke make you sick? Wood smoke contains millions of tiny particles. When you breathe in smoke, the particles can get deep into your respiratory system. You’ve likely experienced the results — stinging eyes, runny nose and coughing. But for those with underlying respiratory illnesses, inhaling smoke is dangerous.

Content for this question contributed by Cindy Buckholdt, resident of Soquel, Santa Cruz County, California, USA