Monthly Archives: February 2019

Adelphi, MD funeral homes

Death and Funeral Rituals around the World

You will go through certain funeral rituals at Adelphi, MD funeral homes when you’re planning a funeral service. While American funeral rituals may be familiar to most of us, to some degree or another, we don’t often think about or know what kind of death and funeral rituals are done internationally.  

Since the 21st century has brought more globalization into society, Americans often find themselves with the opportunity to travel for pleasure or business all over the world. Being knowledgeable about the cultures of the places we’re visiting is an essential part of traveling, and death and funeral rituals are part of that culture.  

For Jewish funerals, the body must be buried within 24 hours. Males wear white shirts, which they tear as a sign of grief, and they place black ribbons on their jackets. Coffins are always biodegradable and closed. Once the coffin is in the grave and prayers have been said, the mourners take turns shoveling the dirt on to cover the grave.  

In Sweden, mourners wait as long as possible before they bury their dead (legally, the body has to be buried within a month). The psychological reasons behind the Swedes’ delay of burial is debated, but some people speculate that it is an intrinsic fear of death that keeps Swedes from burying their loved ones as long as possible.  

In the Far East, it is common for professional mourners to be hired to help increase the grieving of those who are actually mourning the deceased. These professional mourners sob loudly at will to denote the popularity of the deceased person and to remind everyone how much they will be missed. Not only can professional mourners grieve convincingly, but after a quick biography of the deceased’s life, they can present themselves as if they had known the person their entire lives.  

For Koreans who cremate their loved ones, urns have been mostly replaced with urn jewelry. The cremains are cleaned and transformed into crystals, which are then turned into colorful beads. However, Koreans do not wear these. Instead, they display them in a glass container.  

In Madagascar, the people of Malagasy exhume the bodies of their loved ones every seven years, wrap them in cloth, and then dance with the corpses. Since the smell is not so pleasant, they spray the cloth with wine. While they’re dancing with the corpses, they tells stories of about their loved ones and their families.  

A common trend in Ghana is for deceased people to be buried in a container that represents their lives. Coffins can be shaped like boats for fisherpeople, airplanes for pilots, and even Mercedes for successful corporate executives.  

A death ritual for the Tinguian people in the Philippines is to dress their deceased loved ones in their best clothes, seat them on a chair, and place a lit cigarette between their lipes.  

For the people of Sagada in the Philippines, their funeral ritual is to hang the coffins of the dead on the highest places they can find on the mountains. The reasoning behind this is that the closer a coffin is to the sky, the closer the dearly departed is to heaven.   

If you’d to know more about international funeral rituals from Adelphi, MD funeral homes, you can speak with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can come to our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.  

funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD

Funeral Customs in the South

You may see some Southern funeral traditions at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, but if you go further down in the American South, you will see customs that have been passed down through generations and remain to this day, even though more and more people living in the South are not originally from there.  

One funeral custom is the South is bringing food to the family of the deceased person. It’s a way of expression condolences without words, but it’s also a practical realization that the family needs to eat for several days and preparing food or going out to eat is the last thing on their minds. Southerners are generous with their food offerings, bringing soups, casseroles, biscuits, fried chicken, and desserts. Doughnuts are also a mainstay in food delivered to a family that’s grieving, since it’s a quick way to fuel with a cup of coffee in the morning while the family is working with the funeral home to make funeral preparations for their loved one. Southerners also bring salads, salad dressing, and juice and soda, ensuring that they cover all the nutritional needs of the family.  

It is also a common funeral custom in the South to have a potluck after the graveside service. Usually it will be hosted by a family member who is not part of the immediate family who has lost their loved one or it will be hosted by the church that the deceased attended. These potlucks put on a spread of quintessential Southern comfort food and they offer an informal gathering where the family can find comfort and support through memories and stories of their loved one.  

New Orleans, the home of all that’s jazz, has a funeral custom known as the “Second Line.” When musicians or other prominent people die, New Orleans native musicians pick up their trumpets, tubas, and trombones to play as they dance. No funeral dirges here, as up-tempo, jazz-laced songs like “When the Saints Go Marching In” are played while the procession follows the funeral hearse and goes to the cemetery or funeral home. The famed Preservation Hall Jazz band has had, in the past few years, ceremonial second lines for David Bowie and Prince.  

Extreme personalization is another Southern funeral custom. People in the South often get buried with unusual things they love. For instance, one man was buried with Mountain Dew, his favorite soda, while another man was buried with what he requested: a watermelon and a six-pack of Budweiser beer.   

Southerners also memorialize their dead in interesting ways. They are very good about keeping graves up and flowers fresh, but it’s not unusual to see lit, live Christmas trees fueled by generators at graves during the holidays.   

There are two graves that get unusual attention each year. At William Faulkner’s grave in Oxford, Mississippi, visitors routinely leave full bottles of whiskey (Faulkner’s adult drink of choice). In Baltimore, Maryland, for 60 years, a mystery person left three roses and a bottle of cognac (Poe was an alcoholic, and his death was related, in part to overconsumption) at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe on his birthday. When the tradition stopped, Baltimore stepped in to resume it.  

If you’re interested in finding out more about funeral customs at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, our experienced staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. can help you. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.  

Greenbelt, MD cremations

The History of Cremations

When you’re considering Greenbelt, MD cremations, it might interest you to know that the process of cremations has a long and extensive history as a way to dispose of the dead. Greeks introduced cremations to the Western world as early as 1000 BCE. It is probable that the Greeks adopted this funeral option as an imperative of war to make sure that warriors killed in enemy territory were able to have a funeral at home in the communities where their families were.  

Greeks chose to do their cremations on an open fire. Soldiers were cremated where they died, and the cremains were gathered up and sent back to their homes where the cremains were entombed after a funeral ceremony. Cremations did not replace ground burials – even a sprinkling of dirt over the body was considered an underground burial – but they did become associated with military service and the virtues of valor and patriotism.  

In Homer’s Iilad, cremations are seen as important and there were elaborate ceremonies associated with them. Zeus, the chief god of the Greek gods, forces Achilles to return Hector’s body to his father, King Priam of Troy, so that he could cremate it royally.   

The more heroic in battle someone was, the bigger the fire was for his cremation. Achilles himself gives his friend Patroclus a funeral pyre of 100 square feet (30 square meters), and, when Achilles dies, his funeral is even greater.  Mourning for Achilles lasts 17 days, during which the funeral pyre burns. It is extinguished with wine, and the cremains of Achilles are covered with oil and wine and placed in an urn with the cremains of Patroclus. Afterwards, a lavish celebration that includes funeral games and lots of food follows.  

Romans followed the lead of the Greeks – and Trojans – in having cremations for their heroic men of war. In Aeneid by Virgil, there is criticism about the Latin military not having any ceremonial rituals for their dead, nor even worrying about how many are dead. When the cremations are done, the cremains of the war veterans are piled together in a single heap. Roman warriors, however, had very elaborate and respectful rituals for the cremations of their dead.  

Roman citizens followed the example of their army and cremations became a status symbol among wealthy Romans. Because of this, the first columbaria (structures with slots in them to hold the cremains) were built and the enterprise became a lucrative business endeavor.  

However, by 100 CE, the Roman Empire stopped doing cremations. This was most likely because of the spread of Christianity throughout the empire. While cremations were not officially banned, burning a body was avoided because of its association with pagan customs and because it was believed that burning the body would interfere with the reunion of body and soul at the promised resurrection.  

A practical reason, however, for the decline of cremations throughout the Roman Empire was because of potential wood shortages, since so much timber was used to fuel the funeral pyres.  

Scandinavians favored cremations until their conversion to Christianity beginning in 1000 CE, and from that point on cremations were rare in western Europe, except in catastrophic situations, like the Black Death (bubonic plague) that spread like wildfire through Europe in 1656 (60,000 victims in Naples were burned in one week).  

Cremations were highly favored in Eastern cultures because there is much positive symbolism in the process and in the cremains.  

If you’d like to know more about Greenbelt, MD cremations, our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. can assist you. You can come to our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.  

College Park, MD funeral homes

The History of Black Being Worn at Funerals

The custom of wearing black for funerals at College Park, MD funeral homes has rich history in the western world. Special clothing to acknowledge death of a love one can be traced back even to ancient biblical times, where we can see Jacob wearing sackcloth to mourn, what he believes, is the death of his favorite son, Joseph.  

The custom of wearing black, though, seems to have originated in ancient Rome. Romans mourned their dead by wearing a special dark wool toga known as a toga pulla. They also wore this toga when they were protesting a government decision.  

However, the black mourning attire that we’re more familiar with emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages. Europe, at that time, maintained a rigid, immobile class system. Fashion mirrored this social hierarchy, and only the most wealthy and powerful Europeans could afford to buy black or white crapes (made of silk), accompanied by long flowing trains and hoods to show they were in mourning. The rest of the people wore plain, dark clothing to mourn their dead. It was also during this same period that women whose husbands had died began to wear veils known as “widow’s weeds.”  

As political revolution spread through Europe in the 1700’s, social revolution followed closely behind. The merchant classes began to rise in affluence and influence in both Europe and America, which translated into a wider range of people who invested time and money in mourning attire. For some people, this meant buying an entire new black wardrobe. Still, however, the wealthiest people took mourning attire to another level, adding mourning jewelry such as rings, brooches, and necklaces.  

By the time British Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, died in 1861, Queen Victoria opted to wear her black widow’s weeds, made of heavy crape, until her death in 1901. British society followed, and black mourning attire that approximated Queen Victoria’s became a status symbol of financial wealth.  

It was also during Queen Victoria’s reign (known as the Victorian era) that rules were established in the Europe and American for how long mourning attire should be worn. The rules did not apply equally to men and women. Women who’d lost their husbands were expected to observe a year of “full mourning,” which meant wearing black clothing and a veil when going out and avoiding parties or any kind of enjoyable activities. In the second year of loss, widows were expected to be in “half mourning,” during which dark, but colorful, clothing could be worn as well as modest jewelry.  

Parents and children of the deceased were also expected to wear mourning attire for two years, although heavy, black clothing was required for the first year only.  

Men, however, who’d lost their wives operated under a completely different set of rules. They wore black suits and gloves for just a year, after which they were free to move on with their lives and new marriages.  

The rules for funeral dress and mourning dress have relaxed considerably over time, especially in the time following burial or cremation, but the remaining vesture is that it is still customary, and preferred, to wear black to a funeral.  

If you’re interested in knowing more about funeral customs at College Park, MD funeral homes, our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. can guide you. You can visit us at our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.