Whilst it would be fairly  safe to assume that the word ‘bonfire’ comes from the French ‘bon’ attached to the English ‘fire’ to describe a good fire, it is not actually related to the French word at all

It is believed that the word ‘bonfire’ actually originates from ‘bone fire’, and describes the Celtic practice of burning animal bones to ward off evil spirits, and possibly to provide fuel.

An occasional heretic is believed to have been chucked onto these fires too, creating more bones for the fire..

Whilst Halloween has migrated over to France from America,  family pets will be delighted to hear that Bonfire night never made it  – it’s a very British tradition – and the French do NOT celebrate bonfire night!


  1. Kate, It is strange that the article on bonfire night makes no mention of Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605. It is true that bonfires were originally a pagan custom and are mirrored in the Uphellya festival in Shetland and the Stonehaven fire festival, but it was the events of 1605 which started the Bonfire Night tradition, with children wheeling “The Guy”, the effigy of Guido Fawkes around the streets before burning it on the fire.

    1. Of course you’re absolutely right Norman, but we cover French and P-O Life and Guy Fawkes is not relevant, having never crossed the Channel. I have to draw the line somewhere otherwise I would never leave my computer 🙂

Leave a Comment