Dive into thousands of years of burial practices to discover funeral ideas, some of which are recognisable from modern ceremonies and some of which have vanished completely from our lives. We believe that nothing should hinder your imagination as you plan your funeral, so explore the mysteries of the past with us and see what they have to offer.
Funerals In Ancient Cultures
Some rituals have become distinctly embedded in our traditions – did you know humans have been honouring deceased people with flowers since the Stone Age? Burying relatives with precious goods is another ancient ritual that has proved timeless – from early practices of putting food, weapons and trinkets into the grave to 21st-century mourners burying a loved one with their photographs or a favourite book.
The ancient Greeks could be said to invent the Western funeral. For one thing, cremation was so popular in their culture that they invented the practice of putting the ashes of the cremated person into an urn. They also worked to preserve the memory of the dead person with funerary art, which translates into a modern funeral idea whereby mourners supply photographs to be turned into a moving scrapbook of memories and remembered friendships. Similarly, David Bowie was commemorated with the Aladdin Sane portrait, now treated by his fans as a shrine and a testament to the power of art to memorialise a loved one.
Medieval Funeral Ideas
Many medieval traditions are still present in modern Christian ceremonies, but there are numerous less well-known traditions that you can incorporate into your funeral plan. For example, mourners often carried rosemary and cast that onto the coffin in place of roses, which are now more commonplace. Rosemary is a sweet-smelling herb and an evergreen plant, giving it the spiritual connotations of eternal life. Even if you plan on holding an entirely secular event, the literary association of rosemary and remembrance is poignant and beautiful, as immortalised by Shakespeare’s Ophelia: ‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance./ Pray you, love, remember.’ Herbs and other flowers have a whole range of symbolic meanings which you can incorporate into your funeral ideas to send a subtle message.
As we near the Victorian era, we come across funerals which became very stately and sombre, with an elaborate list of dos and don’ts regarding mourning clothes and mourning periods. However, amidst this matrix of societal expectations were some touching practices, such as preserving a lock of hair from the deceased person or weaving it into jewellery. The modern equivalent might be to put a curl into a locket or turn the ashes into a piece of beautiful artwork or a jewel in a necklace. They also knew how to put on a show, from plumed horses to handwritten black-bordered invitations, delivered by a private messenger.
More recently, funerals have lost their reliance on ritual, as they have become more centred around the individual, with their favourite colours, music and flowers determining the details of the event. Therefore, as you search for funeral ideas, you can rest assured knowing that there are no rules for your service. You and your loved ones are the only people who count.
Our Light Inside
At Our Light Inside, you can document your funeral ideas on our online portal. These are sent to your nominees when you die, helping you to have the perfect send-off. You can get in touch to enquire about membership or ask questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.