Funerals have been around for as long as humans have been around, but the truth behind what we do today is hidden in the shadows. That’s why there are so many misconceptions about the funeral profession, and it’s caused a lot of controversy in the industry.
Funerals are actually quite easy, especially when you have a trained professional to guide you through the process. As a grieving family member you already know this, but you need to know more. We’re here to help. Here are 14 Facts about Funerals and funeral services that you can share with your loved ones to help clarify some of the chaos and confusion around death, funerals, and everything related to it.
The word funeral was first used in 1300’s
It is thought that the word ‘funeral’ was first used in a Middle English text called ‘The Knight’s Tale’, in which Chaucer referred to a ‘funeral service’ after a character died. Chaucer is widely regarded as the originator of the modern English language. This text was written in 1386 and is believed to be the first use of the term ‘funeral’ in writing.
Marking gravestones is a human instinct
There are many different styles of gravestones. The most common type of gravestone is the upright headstone. This style is most likely found in churchyards in Europe and the American Colonies. Over time, upright gravestones developed into the styles we see today, with information about the life of the deceased engraved on the headstone. Another common style of gravestone found in many cemeteries around the world, is known as an obelisk. Obelisks were first found in ancient Egypt.
Cremation as a process goes back to stone-age
The current consensus among scholars is that cremation is believed to have been practiced in some form at least as early as 3000 BC in what is now known as the Early Stone Age, and possibly as early as the Middle Ages in what is now Europe and the Middle East. Although there are two documented cases of cremation prior to 1800, the true beginning of cremation can be traced back to 1876, when the first American crematory was constructed in Washington, Pa. by Dr. Julius.
Wearing black dates back to Roman times
It’s thought that black was worn to a funeral for the first time during the Roman era, where people would wear dark togas (known as toga pullas) to mourn the death of a family member or friend. This tradition continued throughout the British Empire, with black being a popular colour of mourning for the Victorians.
Ancient funerals were louder for wealthy people
Similar to today’s funeral processions, the Romans held processions to commemorate the death of their loved ones. For the Romans, the bigger the procession and the more noise it made the wealthier or important the deceased was. This is why they sometimes hired professional mourners to help with the processions.
Rosemary was the herb of funerals
Rosemary sprouts were often carried in funeral parades and thrown on top of the coffin before being buried, much like today’s roses. Because rosemary is an evergreen, it was associated with everlasting life. Also, because rosemary is a fragrant plant, it was often placed inside the coffin to mask any odors that might have been present. This was especially important because bodies were often laid in state for several days, and sometimes weeks, before being buried, while funeral arrangements were being made and relatives traveled to attend the service.