Bonfires Were Originally For Bones
In the 15th century, English pagans burned the bones to celebrate the summer. These bones were from the livestock that was slaughtered in the previous year. After the flames had settled, the remains from the bonefire were then used to make gelatin. By the 16th century, the bone-burning tradition had burnt out (pun intended). The "e" in the word was then dropped, leaving us with the current word: bonfire. Today, many cultures and religions around the world have incorporated bonfires into their rituals and traditions.
from Say What?
Key Facts In This Video
In the 15th century, English pagans burned bones to celebrate summer. (0:34)
Pagans of the 15th century referred to the burning of bones as a "bonefire." (0:48)
Fires that were fueled by bones were "bonefires," but boneless fires retained the name with the e: bonfire. (1:00)