If you’ve ever attended a funeral, you will no doubt recognise many of the common procedures and traditions that have worked their way into the proceedings of the day. From speeches and songs to transport and arrangements. Within this blog, let Stockman & Loram detail varied funeral customs and their origins, many of which you perhaps wouldn’t expect!
Spreading or casting a loved one’s ashes up in the air into water or over the ground is one of the most popular and longstanding methods of memorialising a loved one, bringing closure to many of those who practise it. The location where casting occurs varies between ceremonies, while ashes may be cast over the ocean, near a spot that has special meaning, or into the air as a symbolic gesture following cremation.
Originally a popular practice among both the Ancient Greeks and Romans, ancient texts have revealed that in the Ancient Greek city of Lefkandi, friends and loved ones customarily scattered a small amount of the cremated ashes across the ground as a memorial service – the earliest instance of this being completed.
The use of hearses during a funeral procession is extremely common, and prior to a traditional funeral service, a hearse will take the coffin to the location, and is often followed by limousines or private cars carrying mourners. Not simply limited to tinted vehicles and hearses, a coffin can be transported in any vehicle large enough to accommodate it.
Before we had hearses, most people used hand-drawn carts called biers. In fact, they are often still used today and are made out of light metal. There is early evidence of English royalty using horse drawn carts as early as 1468. As automobiles have become commonplace, the natural development was of course to use these vehicles for funeral services, and the transition was seamless.
Though a wake may not seem like the most interesting topic in the world, the origins are actually fascinating. Contrary to popular belief, it actually has nothing to do with waking up. Instead, its roots trace back to Old English and Germanic words meaning “to observe” or “stand guard.” The idea was to keep vigil over a body for the days between death and burial, though this process of course evolved to resemble an event where close friends and family gather together to pay their respects.
Some wakes also involve readings and prayers. But, most involve a social gathering, which includes food and drinks to enjoy while remembering the departed. In some cases, a wake refers to the period before the funeral in which mourners viewed the deceased.
In much of the western world, wearing black to a funeral is the most common dress code, and is considered a sign of respect. Like many other common procedures we now take for granted, the tradition actually dates back to the ancient Romans, when mourners would adopt a darker coloured Toga to show they were in mourning.
Black has a long tradition of being associated with funerals. This is because it’s often seen as a symbol of dark moods and sadness. Many are bucking the trend in modern times, donning expressive colourful clothing throughout the funeral plans instead, as a celebration of life.
Looking for a truly personal funeral or cremation service which acts as a poignant tribute to your departed loved one? We’re happy to help at Stockman & Loram. Simply contact us today and let us know your exact requirements! We would be delighted to help out.