A bonfire is a large but controlled outdoor fire, used either for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration.
In many regions of continental Europe, bonfires are made traditionally on 16 January, the solemnity of John the Baptist, as well as on Saturday night before Easter. Bonfires are also a feature of Walpurgis Night in central and northern Europe, and the celebrations on the eve of St. John's Day in Spain. In Finland bonfires are tradition on Midsummer Eve and Easter, also in midst of May celebrations.
Bonfires are used on farms, in large gardens and allotments to dispose of waste plant material that is not readily composted. This includes woody material, pernicious weeds, diseased material and material treated with persistent pesticides and herbicides. Such bonfires may be quite small but are often designed to burn slowly for several days so that wet and green material may be reduced to ash by frequently turning the unburnt material into the centre. Such bonfires can also deal with turf and other earthy material. The ash from garden bonfires is a useful source of potash and may be beneficial in improving the soil structure of some soils although such fires must be managed with safety in mind. Garden and farm bonfires are frequently smoky and can cause local nuisance if poorly managed or lit in unsuitable weather conditions.
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