Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cemetery Traditions

This week, when the religious holiday of "All Souls' Day" and the celebration of Halloween is imminent, I think about the many cemetery traditions of honoring the dead. The most unique one, I believe, is the tradition of "whitewashing" the graves on "All Souls' Day." This tradition is still practiced in the old cemeteries of New Orleans, and it is often a family affair that is followed by attendance at Mass later that day.

Since the beginning of time, families have honored the deceased by placing flowers, holiday wreaths, or winter "blankets" on their graves, especially during holiday seasons or on the anniversary of a birthday or anniversary. Our contemporary practice seems to be the placement of plastic or silk flowers in a vase or an urn that is incorporated as part of the gravestone.

But whatever the practice, and how often it occurs, this tradition still signifies the same thing: we honor our loved ones until the end.

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