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Breaking up is hard to do. Itís bad enough that your significant other is out of your life, but did they really have to leave all that stuff behind? Whether itís things they gave you or things that remind you of them, theyíve got to go. So grab some matches, itís time for a break up bonfire!
The breakup bonfire is usually ceremonial and perhaps even a little spiritual. As fire is a symbol of both destruction and rebirth, a break up bonfire typically represents a character breaking old bonds and starting anew. However, note the Unfair Sex nature of this trope. A woman doing this is usually celebrating her freedom from an oppressive male. A man doing this usually is the oppressive male, and a spiteful destructive bastard at that. As such, most examples below are from female characters burning her ex's things.
A variation both of Defenestrate and Berate and Burn Baby Burn.
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Two examples from Popotan, neither of which follow a romance gone sour, but they stay true to the general idea of the trope:
After she learns of Konami's death, Mai tries to burn the portrait she received from her in order to forget about her, but she is stopped by Mea.
It's revealed that Mea's previous household burned their house when they found that Shizuku was not able to give them a good explanation for their travels; she could not prevent this one.
In Clueless, Tai and Cher burn mementos from Tai's relationship with Elton.
In The Aeneid, Dido and her sister set fire to Aeneas's things after he abandons Dido. Said bonfire also doubles as a funeral pyre, as the last thing Dido throws into the fire is herself.
Emma by Jane Austen: Harriet Smith throws her rather pathetic mementos of Mr Elton into a fire after having shown them to Emma, her friend she looks up to. They were not exactly a couple, but Harriet had been in love with him.
Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel burn mementos of their exes when they find themselves all single on Valentine's Day and decide to do something to "cleanse" their bad luck. The firemen who attend when it inevitably gets out of control tell them that Valentine's Day is one of their busiest nights of the year, for exactly that reason.
In Season 4, Rachel's crush, Joshua, has to buy a lot of new clothes as his ex-wife set all his old clothes on fire. He later reveals he keeps on buying clothes since he likes Rachel.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: in the season 4 episode "The Initiative," Xander comes across Harmony as she's building a bonfire of Spike's stuff.
Discussed in episode "Happily Ever After" of How I Met Your Mother when Ted is dealing with the fact that he was left at the alter and is seemingly fine. Marshall tells him he should go crazy and let it out, perhaps even following his own advice from a time when Marshall and Lily were broken up. Marshall says he should have followed Ted's advice and should have set all Lily's stuff on fire.
On reality show Cheaters, there was an episode where the woman set her cheating partner's possessions on fire.
The Taylor Swift song "Picture to Burn" is about burning up pictures of her ex.
The Green Day song "Whatsername" is about the singer reminiscing about an old girlfriend whose name he can't remember. In one line, he mentions that he "made a point to burn all of the photographs."
"I'm roasting marshmallows on a fire, and what I'm burning, boy, is your attire..."
Rapper "Left Eye" from 90's girl group TLC did this twice during her on-and-off relationship with pro football player Andre Rison. First, she burned their collection of teddy bears in the bathtub after a fight. The marble tub was burned so badly it had to be replaced. Later, after a night of drinking she came home to find several pairs of women's shoes that weren't her size, so she burned them in the tub too...except the new tub was made of fiberglass which quickly melted and the fire spread faster than she could contain. She ran away unhurt but the mansion burned to the ground. The resulting scandal ("Left Eye burned down her boyfriend's house!") greatly pushed sales of their 1995 album CrazySexyCool
"Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake contains this line: "Your pictures got burned, now it's your turn to cry..."
Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" video has a paper cityscape being burned.
AliceTwilight, the Rank 2 assassin in No More Heroes 2 is in the process of doing this when Travis turns up to fight her. Close examination◊ of the pictures show them to be photos of a husband and child, as well MargaretMoonlight, the Rank 4 assassin. In this case, it probably hasn't got anything to do with romance, instead being symbolic of everything Alice has lost or left behind due to her profession.
In the first season finale of Idiotsitter, "The Ex-Boyfriend", Billie has dinner with her ex, and Gene suggests using this trope-on his car. They come up with another plan, and when it falls flat-Gene sets fire to the guy's car anyway.
In The Simpsons episode where Milhouse's parents get divorced, Luann carefully boxes up all of Kirk's possessions, tapes it, labels it and then sets the box on fire. While humming.