Death Rituals Around Time and the World

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Viking Funeral or Barbecue Pit Gone Mad?

Viking: If you were revered enough, your body was put on a ship and, after the ship had moved far enough away from shore, a flaming arrow would set the boat on fire and incinerate the deceased… unless the archer missed; then, you’d just have a dead guy on a boat.

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Ancient Egypt: Mummies! In the modern world, we tend to put the bandages on before a person dies; but, in ancient Egypt, if you had the money, you could be preserved with special bandages, with your brain discarded and your other organs in a big jar. Because who doesn’t want to last forever as an empty dried out husk with a rictus-like grin…?

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Sky Funeral: Buddhists in the Tibetan mountains leave bodies out for the vultures and animals… although, I’d imagine the people who do organ transplants would get first dibs. When you hear the name, it sounds like the body is being shot into space… not used essentially as feeding time at the zoo. I know it is a way to recycle a body and help nature at the same time, but many of us have a problem with ending up as buzzard dung.

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Japanese Buddhist: The relatives take turns dropping the bones into an urn like tiles in a game of Scrabble. The deceased is given a Buddhist name so that, when he is mentioned by the living, he doesn’t come back as a terrifying ghost and say, “Did somebody call me?”. Also, the new name in the afterlife allows the deceased to avoid any attempts to collect on student loans.

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Cannibalism: Was once practiced by aboriginal cultures. It may seem barbaric; but, if you don’t get your aunt’s expensive ring after she dies, it IS a consolation to at least get to eat the hand that the ring was on…

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New Orleans Jazz Funeral: A slow march to a slow dirge, followed by the funeral and then upbeat jazz music as mourners celebrate the life of the deceased. It’s wonderful proof that even being dead is better with jazz.

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My Family: We’d gently put the body into a nearby river, usually flung from a car on a bridge, leaving the deceased as a problem for others.

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Philippines: In parts of the Philippines, the dead were placed in a hollowed out tree. The type of tree is pretty important because no one wanted to eat a mango that “tastes like grandma”…

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Madagascar: Known as “The Turning of the Bones”, every five years relatives dig up the body, perfume it and even dance with the bones in a bag. So, what’s there to do in Madagascar? Aren’t you sorry you asked?

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Ancient Greeks: Would wrap the corpse up in sweet-smelling bandages and put a coin under its tongue as payment for the ride on Charon’s boat to the underworld. Some would put two coins into the deceased’s mouth so they could get a better cabin and access to the open bar.

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19 thoughts on “Death Rituals Around Time and the World

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