Thursday, April 9, 2009

Death Cult

In Holland there is no real ‘death’ culture, or I should better say death cults. When someone dies it is most of the time over… By that I mean that it is not really common to visit the grave often, to place all kinds of pictures and candles, to have a meal at the grave etc. non-religious people and Catholics do this more often. But Protestant graveyards are mostly sober, forgotten - empty- places. The stones have bible verses, but you don’t see crosses or statues.

This graveyard has some historical status, so there are graves from the 1850’s otherwise the graves are cleaned out and re-used…. The country is to small to keep all the graves, I learned that it is common to occupy one grave for 3 coffins on top of each other (non family), if there would have been a cult around death this likely would have been impossible.

I think that death is one of the few taboos we have, people don’t easily talk about the topic, when someone dies, he will be buried and quickly forgotten from public life. For this reason I think it is an extra shock when a person dies….

That is the reason, I figure, a graveyard like this in the centre of town is decaying, nobody feels it should be further maintained.. This picture shows how the stones are ‘sinking’ into the ground.


White Oleander said...

I have not seen a graveyard like such. Very interesting story to share.

Vogon Poet said...

I have never seen anywhere (except in the movies) people eating at a grave. I think here they'll get themselves arrested!
Anyway I share your attitude, so well expressed in your post.

Cezar and Léia said...

This culture is so different!I have never seen this kind of thing!
Very interesting your explanation!

Blogaire said...

Very interesting photo's and article on death/graveyards! In Ireland we have a very strong death culture, not so much in the cities or urban areas but in the country areas and especially on the west coast old traditions are still very common.
These include a "wake", keeping the dead person in an open coffin for two days and nights in their home, where friends and neighbours visit to say a prayer and basically say goodbye to the deceased. They usually touch the persons hand before they turn away from the coffin,having seen him/her for the very last time (in this world at least). They are then offered a cup of tea and a biscuit (or sometimes something stronger, like "Poitín").In the evening the Rosary is recited, and afterwards some friends and family stay up all night telling stories and jokes - often about the deceased person. During the "wake" and indeed for some time after the burial the women relatives all wear black clothes. In the case of a wife who buries her husband she often will wear ONLY black clothes for the rest of her life.Thus,the memory I have of my two Grandmothers is that were always dressed in black. I think it is a Catholic tradition? Is it like this anywhere else?

PAK said...

I have sometimes seen Romani eating and (especially :) ) drinking at the grave, but it is not popular.

In Poland we have 'death cult', but experts say the death cult is rather a trace of pagan past, that catholicism.

(Well, maybe on Monday I post photo with the cemetery at Easter.)

PAK said...

In Poland something simmilar was in the past -- I know it from my grandmother stories.

arctic dreamer said...

Toronto (Canada) where I grew up, has a huge cemetery, right on the main street which also has an incredible collection of trees and plants. It's an enormous tract of land, there are crypts, regular graves & monuments; many famous/rich people are buried there. It was always one of my favourite places to go spend a day; it's more like a par than a cemetery. My daughter & I used to go there for picnics & to pick nuts, leaves & read the gravestones.