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Thread: Funeral Etiquettes in Germanic Countries and Regions

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    Funeral Etiquettes in Germanic Countries and Regions

    This is a little bit of a morbid topic but I've read an article about professional mourners and been wondering how funeral etiquettes and expression of emotions and grief differs in Germanic countries and regions.

    So a few questions about funerals in your countries.

    Do you cry at funerals?

    Is it expected that you cry or show some sadness if a close relative dies? What about a distant relative? If someone is sensitive and cries, is it considered appropriate or not?

    In your culture, are many people expected or invited to the funeral or do people prefer to keep a private family service?

    Do people serve foods and beverages at funerals?

    Are there any professional mourners hired for funerals?

    What about caskets and burial or cremation, which method is most common?

    In my region, funerals are usually held for the family and extended family. Sometimes coworkers and friends attend to show solidarity with the family. It's considered disrespectful to eat or drink during the funeral service, but by the end of the service some funeral specific breads are donated to the attendants. Sometimes poor peoples hang near the cemetery and some extra bread is donated for them. Cell phones during the service have to be turned off or turned silent, it's disrespectful to talk on the phone during the service. If it's an emergency, the person has to go away from the crowd to talk. Children are usually not brought to funerals unless they're from the immediate family.

    Hmm about tears, in this region silent tears are normal but not crying loud and uncontrollably. However in the Eastern parts they used to hire professional mourners who cry for everyone. The more mourners a person had, the more happy and fruitful their life was considered.

    Peoples are usually buried when they die and unless the person is disfigured it's an open casket. People can come near the casket and say their goodbyes to the dead person.

    I don't like funerals and they make me sad but I attend all funerals I'm invited to because it's considered respect. Sometimes I cry even if I didn't know the person well, however I've faith in the afterlife so I'm seeing death as a transition phase.

    Today photos are rarely taken at funerals but some centuries ago postmortem photography was common.

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    In Norway, it is common, after the funeral, for the closest relatives and friends of the deceased to gather either at the house of the dead person's family, or at some quiet dinner place, to eat food and talk together. The general mood will be more uplifting at this point, perhaps due to relief that the funeral is completed, and people will sit for maybe one or two hours and get to know each other (if they didn't already), or talk about old memories of the person who died.

    I don't know if this is common in other countries, as well. I think it's a nice tradition to eat together, as a symbol of life going on.

    Crying openly, is mostly reserved for women and young ones, though.
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    Has no one mentioned the sin eater? In England and Wales the custom persisted till around 1900. The custom was also present in Bavaria at least. But in England most folklore texts deal with Great Britain, Ireland and nearby islands with reference to Norway, sometimes France, and the Classical Mediterranean.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sin-eater

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    Quote Originally Posted by Žoreišar View Post
    I don't know if this is common in other countries, as well.

    It's the same in my community.
    In the past the gathering after the funeral was always at the deceased's house, but nowadays most people just rent a small diner.
    As far as the mood goes, it depends on who died. If the person was young than the whole thing is very serious and dark, however if it's and old person it's not uncommon to see people tell jokes and laugh.
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    Do you cry at funerals?
    Personally, I somehow can't cry at funerals, even though I was certainly sad at those I participated in. I don't know why that is and in the past I was actually ashamed of not crying. But it's just how I am and it doesn't lessen my appreciation of the dead. I don’t think anyone ever thought anything about it, either.

    Is it expected that you cry or show some sadness if a close relative dies? What about a distant relative? If someone is sensitive and cries, is it considered appropriate or not?
    There’s no real “obligation” to be sad or cry but it’s certainly not taken well to be cheerful or loud during the actual funeral ceremony, unlike at the following meal.

    I don't think, that even men shedding a tear is much of a problem here, at least if they were closely related to the deceased. Then again, there are different forms of crying and making a farce/drama out of it, is certainly uncommon, for women, children and men alike.

    In your culture, are many people expected or invited to the funeral or do people prefer to keep a private family service?
    This varies somewhat but most common is probably a ceremony with close family and friends. Inviting mere acquaintances or even strangers is unheard of.

    Do people serve foods and beverages at funerals?
    It’s the same in Germany, as Žoreišar described for Norway and people, at least historically, were actually encouraged to be cheerful during the meal, rather than sad and also tell stories about the deceased. It’s simply a form of coping with bereavement, I think.

    Are there any professional mourners hired for funerals?
    There are no professional mourners, which certainly strikes me more like a southern European custom.

    What about caskets and burial or cremation, which method is most common?
    About 60% of dead are cremated in Germany by now and the ratio is still increasing. Probably mostly because Atheists don’t mind what happens with their body after death and a cremation and a urn grave are cheaper, than interment.

    It’s especially common in the east and also in the north but somewhat less so in the South, especially in the more Catholic regions of the latter, where people cling more to the traditional Christian aversion to cremation.
    If people are buried, it's also not uncommon to lay them out before/during the funeral speech.
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