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Bonfire and Beer


Wikipedia says that a bonfire is so called because it was originally a fire in which bones were burned, but it is not forthcoming about this.  When quizzed, it simply dumps you at Etymology Online which says the same thing in almost the same words.   This is a much better explanation.   I didn't put any bones on mine!


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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
puddleshark
9th Aug, 2015 11:20 (UTC)
Beer! Lovely amber beer!

Perfect beer weather yesterday.
wellinghall
9th Aug, 2015 19:08 (UTC)
Is any weather *not* perfect beer weather?
wellinghall
9th Aug, 2015 19:07 (UTC)
Love the photos.
anna_wing
11th Aug, 2015 04:02 (UTC)
Another derivation that I've come across is that it means a "good" fire, one that drives away evil. This has the whiff of folk etymology about it, but no more than the bones do (was that for cremation or cookery? Or a particularly ambitious compost heap?)
bunn
11th Aug, 2015 14:39 (UTC)
That page I linked reckons that burning bones was a documented tradition, presumably similar to the Ottery St Mary Tar Barrel festival, and the mari lwyd in South Wales where they parade about a horse's skull on a pole. I suppose they would have burned if hot enough - maybe with fat on them?

The 'good' fire etymology, I learn, is unlikely because 'bon' is French and 'fire' is English and Never the Twain Shall Meet.

Although I must say I am under the impression that years ago when I had to read stuff in Norman French it was full of that sort of Franglish. It was a long time ago though, and life is too short to argue with etymologists!
anna_wing
12th Aug, 2015 04:13 (UTC)
Old law French is full of weird Anglo-French usages too.

It takes bodies a while to burn, because of the high water content. I was at a traditional Buddhist cremation in a clay cremation kiln and was told that we would have to come back in a couple of days because it would take that long to reduce down to ash and lumps of bone. I suppose if you're just burning skeletal remains (of whatever) a big fire would do.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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