Most of the time, funeral and death are things that many people would avoid talking about. These are considered a taboo topic simply because they connote negativity. Of course, there are also those simply afraid to think of such matters. Still, many interesting facts about death and funerals are deeply rooted into the culture of each country.
Here are some of those fascinating facts:
1. The phrase “Saved by the Bell” got coined because of a practice during the 18th to 19th century where a string is tied to one of the fingers of the dead person, and that string is attached to a bell from the outside of the coffin. If in case someone gets buried alive, that person inside the coffin can ring the bell to alert people that she is still alive, thereby the expression.
2. Putting pennies in the eyes of the deceased originated from the Greek culture, where people weigh down the eyes of the person who passed away with his eyes open. Well, there’s also this belief that whoever gets to be “seen” by the dead person will get to die next.
3. In some cultures, like the Greek and the Japanese, the dead are buried with coins inside their mouths. The coins, they say, will be used to transport the soul to the other side of the river in the underworld.
4. The Chinese believes that if you burn cardboard or paper representations of earthly possessions, then the dead will be able to use it in the afterlife. Examples of which include cardboard houses, furniture, appliances, luxury yachts and helicopters, and even money.
5. It is customary for Jews to designate one family member to stay with the deceased from the time of his death until the burial.
6. The practice of throwing a flower or decorating the coffin with a wreath of flowers was done originally to offset the smell of the decaying corpse during the wake or funeral service.
7. In Britain, sick persons try to touch the hands of a deceased member of the opposite sex. They believe that they will get better once they do this.
8. The difference between a casket and a coffin lies in the number of sides each has. Coffins have four sides, while caskets, on the other hand, have six.
9. One of the most expensive funerals that have taken place, is the funeral of Princess Diana, where about $10.5 Million was spent.
10. In some cultures, loud music is played during the funeral to ward off bad spirits.
11. “Online wake” is now a service being offered in the Philippines to allow migrant Filipino Workers who cannot come home for the funeral service, giving them the chance to pay respects to their dead.
12. Islamic people wash their dead, shroud them in white fabric, and bury them within twenty-four hours of death.
13. The Twentieth Century ushered in the era of motorized hearses. Prior to that, a cortege was headed of a horse-drawn carriage.
14. The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is that a graveyard is adjacent to a church or an area of worship, while a cemetery is a standalone burial site.
15. The Catacombs in Paris, France are made of skeletons of deceased people buried in cemeteries. Due to lack of space, their remains had to be removed, and these were eventually turned into catacombs.
16. Some ethnic tribes still bury their dead in caves, in a sitting position, held by either ropes or burial shrouds.
Those aren’t the only intriguing things about funerals, so feel free to further broaden your knowledge. As you gather information, you’ll learn to talk about death in a way that doesn’t denote negativity. You’ll realize that this taboo topic is actually among the most fascinating subjects.