Although the term burial is defined as placing a body in the ground, burial traditions can vary according to culture, status, and the availability of certain resources. While a certain reverence and respect for the dead is paid in most parts, there are many methods in which the memorial process is carried out. Keep reading to learn more about the many different kinds of burial and remembrance.
Ancient and Foreign Funeral Traditions
Today’s burial methods are changing fast, but traditions in other parts of the world can often endure for centuries or millennia. Some of the earliest traces of burial can be traced back to the Neanderthals. Though primitive in nature, they still paid their respects by placing flowers on the deceased's chest before burying them in caves. Most forms of Buddhism call for bodies to be cremated or surrendered to nature as an act of charity.
Another ancient tradition traces its roots from the mountains of Mongolia and Tibet, where the people believe that death leaves the body devoid of soul or essence. Instead of burial or cremation, they separate the corpse into multiple pieces to leave atop the mountains so the body can return to the soil.
Communities throughout the world, displaced by continents and time, sometimes practice similar burial traditions. The Greeks placed any worthy or revered deceased upon a raft and set them ablaze to burn away. Pyre burials such as these took place in India and Scandinavia. Sati is an outlawed practice in which a widow would throw herself on the funeral pyre to follow her husband into the afterlife. The Norsemen practiced both ship burials and cremation to honor deceased chieftains and warriors.
Modern Interment Trends
Some of the oldest traditions survive today and are growing ever more popular. Although most people associate mummification with ancient Egypt, forms of entombment carry on. Modern mummification requires the removal of internal organs and total hydration before being embalmed with lanolin and wax. Mummification is also a very popular method of memorializing pets.
Culture and religion have a lot to do with the burial traditions throughout the United States. In New Orleans, funeral processions lead the deceased from the funeral home to the graveyard. As they walk through the streets to the cemetery, these musicians perform dirges and somber melodies. Once the deceased is buried, the funeral procession plays livelier music in celebration.
Cremation persists as one of the most popular traditions, especially in Buddhism and Hinduism. Although Christianity outlawed the practice of cremation, those decrees have since been discarded. Now more than ever, people wish to be buried in natural ways that won’t harm the environment. Instead of taking up space in a graveyard or allowing toxins to be released into the atmosphere via cremation, many people wish for quick decay by being buried in wicker baskets without any embalming preparation. There are even some companies that will send ashes to outer space.
There are many burial traditions throughout history, with some surviving even today. If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact Legacy Headstones today for additional information or further assistance.