Reymershoffer4

Hold Your Breath & Other Cemetery Superstitions

a4a9d33b085192708051db439483f4bdFolklore and customs concerning death and cemeteries can run from humorous to gruesome, and are almost always entertaining. Most of us have heard it’s bad luck to walk across a grave or speak ill of the dead, but if you didn’t know that collecting epitaphs could cause you to lose your memory perhaps you should read on…just in case!

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Mirrors

  • As soon as death occurs, the mirrors and pictures in the room should be covered or turned where they can’t be looked upon. It is bad luck to let the reflection of the corpse be seen in the mirror.

  • Cover mirrors with black crepe or veiling to prevent the deceased’s spirit from getting trapped in the looking glass

  • A European tradition says that if you look into the mirror before the body is removed, you can see the deceased looking over your shoulder.

 

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  • Sweeping the home before the corpse is taken out will ensure that the person who does so will be the next to die.

  • Take care that you do not see your reflection in a hearse, or you will be the next to be carried in it.

  • Being the first to leave the cemetery after a funeral is bad luck and could bring you death.

  • The person who walks out in front of the coffin as it is being taken from the house will be the next to die.

  • If the body of the deceased is limp for some time after death, another member of the family will soon follow.

  • A corpse should leave any home or building feet-first, or else the corpse would be looking back at the building and calling for someone within to follow him in death.

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Please Proceed

  • Locking the door of your home after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.

  • It is also bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around or hold on to a button until the cortege passes.

  • If a funeral procession passes your home, draw the curtains or close the blinds to prevent the dead from entering your home.

  • Never count the number of cars in a funeral procession, as it is considered counting the days until the your own death

  • The corpse should not pass over any part of the same road twice or the spirit will lose its way.

  • If the funeral procession stops on its way to the cemetery, another death will soon follow.

  • It used to be believed that carrying a baby in a funeral procession would ensure that it would die before its first birthday.

  • A black cat crossing in front of a funeral procession means another death in that family.

  • It is a sign of bad luck, if a horse in a funeral procession becomes frisky.

  • Never look backward while in a funeral procession, or you will soon go to another funeral.

  • After a funeral, if two carriages from the same funeral meet at the intersection of two streets then go in opposite directions, expect another death.

Flowers

  • If the deceased lived a good life flowers will bloom on his grave, but if he has been evil only weeds will grow.funeralflowersinparlor

  • Having only red and white flowers together in a vase (especially in a hospital) means death will soon follow.

  • Never take flowers from a grave or that spirit will haunt you.

  • A living flower taken from a gravesite will not grow.

  • If you smell roses when none are around, someone is going to die.

  • A single snowdrop growing in the garden foretells a death

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Clothing

  • Do not put the clothes of a living person on a corpse. That person will die once the clothes decay.

  • A witch must be buried face down to prevent the community further supernatural spells. If this doesn’t work, unbury them and turn their clothes inside out, then re-bury them face down.

  • Removing the bed sheets from the home before the corpse leaves ensures another member of the family will soon die.

  • The Irish believe in wearing black to appear to be a shadow, so that the dead person won’t enter your body.

  • It is bad luck to wear anything new to a funeral, especially shoes.

  • If you bury someone with a veil over their face and the veil gets in their mouth, they will call the family away.

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Home

  • Family photographs should be placed face down to prevent any of the close relatives and friends of the deceased from being possessed by the spirit of the dead.

  • If you hear three knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. The superstitious call this the three knocks of death.

  • A knife falling to the floor means a loved one has died.

  • If a picture suddenly falls off the wall, someone has died.

  • Stop the clocks at the time of death to show the departed that “time was over” for him or her.

  • On the night after November 1, a candle should be lit for each deceased relative and placed in a window.

  • If coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup form a straight line, you can expect a funeral

  • Dropping an umbrella on the floor or opening one in the house means that there will be a murder in the house.

  • A hat on the bed means death in the family.

  • If you spill salt, throw a pinch of the spilt salt over your shoulder to prevent death.

  • If an undertaker leaves anything of his trade at the house and it remains there after the funeral, someone in that family will soon die.

  • If a broom is rested against a bed, the person who sleeps there will die soon.

  • Taking ashes out of a stove after sundown will bring a death in the family.

It’s Black & White

  • A white moth inside the house or trying to get in means death.

  • If several deaths occur in the same family, tie a black ribbon to everything left alive that enters the house, even chickens and dogs. This will protect against deaths spreading further.

  • A diamond-shaped fold in clean linen foreshadows death.

  • If you bury a woman in all black with no color on her dress, she will always come back and haunt the family.

  • Meeting a white chicken on your way to a funeral is an omen of bad luck.

Fending Off Spirits

  • A corpse should be carried out feet first to prevent the spirit from looking back into the house and beckoning another member of the family to follow.60ba1b4e0b47b03736184f82709a5b2d

  • You should always cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t leave you and the devil enter your body.

  • Hold your breath when passing a graveyard so evil or the spirit of someone who has recently died can’t enter.

  • As soon as the person is dead and in the clothes in which they are to be buried, a dish of salt should be put on their chest to keep evil spirits away.

  • Never cry on a dead person because if the tears fall on them, it makes it harder for the spirit to leave this world.

  • If for some reason you find yourself needing to bury a body, bury them at a crossroads and their spirit won’t be able to leave.

  • Make sure windows and doors are open after a person dies to ensure their spirit a speedy journey to the other side.

  • Turning over a shoe under the bed when the dogs howl at night to prevent death from possessing you.

  • Pallbearers must wear white gloves so the spirit can’t enter their bodies.

East or West

  • Graves should be oriented so that the bodies lie with their heads to the West and their feet to the East. This old custom appears to originate with the Pagan sun worshippers, but is primarily attributed to Christians who believe that the final summons to Judgment will come from the East.

  • The bed of a gravely ill person should never be placed north and south, and always east and west with the head toward the west. This will speed the process of dying and reduce suffering.

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In the Cemetery

  • Tuck your thumbs into your fists when passing a cemetery to protect your parents.

  • The spirit of the last person buried in a cemetery must stand watch over all the others.

  • Never whistle inside the cemetery walls, or you will summon the devil.

  • A pregnant woman should not go to a cemetery or her infant may be possessed.

  • Visiting a cemetery after dark will bring you bad luck.

  • Go to a cemetery, get some black dirt off a grave and put that dirt under steps you have to walk over, and you will always have luck.

  • The person who takes something from a cemetery will return more than he took.

Graves & Burials

  • Being near an open grave will cure a toothache.

  • Being buried on the north side of the church is considered unlucky because of the lack of sun. That area is usually reserved for criminals and suicides.

  • The shovels and other tools used to dig a grave used to be left at the gravesite for a day or more after the burial, as moving them too soon would bring bad luck.

  • Graves should never be left open overnight. It will lead to another death.

  • If the casket slips while it is being lowered into the grave, another death will soon follow.

  • Leaving the grave before it is filled will welcome another death to follow.

  • It is bad luck to point at a grave, because the dead will see you.

  • Naturally, the post of guardian was to be avoided if possible, so, when two bodies arrive for interment at the same time, a rush was made by the friends of the deceased in order to prevent their friend from being “last man in.”

  • If the coffin does not go into the hole easily, it is because the devil does not want the deceased.

  • If you have an involuntary shiver, someone has just walked over your grave

  • Never bury anyone on Thursday or Saturday, as it will result in bad luck.

  • Never bury anything, such as toys with a child, or other family members will soon die.

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Wild Things

  • If a firefly or lightening bug gets into a house someone will soon die.

  • If a bird pecks at or crashes into your window, there has been a death.

  • If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.

  • The cry of a curlew foretells a death.

  • If a red-breasted robin flies into a house, death will shortly follow.

  • When the head of the household dies, one must go out and whisper the news of the death to the bees, or all in the home will meet the same fate. Bees were believed in past to be the messengers of the gods, so when informed, bees would take the news to them.

  • If the deceased cared for an orchard or any fruit trees, the trees must be informed of the passing.

  • If a turtle dove flies upward after a death, the soul of the deceased will go to heaven.

  • A person cannot die on a mattress with feathers of wild fowl, so when someone is dying a slow death, the person must be carried to a different mattress to ease the suffering.

  • If a cow moos after midnight, it is an evil omen.

  • If you are going to a funeral and meet a mad dog, it will cause you bad luck.

  • The cry of an owl symbolizes death. Where it builds a nest, ghosts will haunt for as long as the bird stays.

  • The crowing of a rooster signals wandering ghosts that it is time for them to disappear until nightfall.

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It’s in the Numbers

  • Death comes in threes.

  • If thirteen people sit down at a table to eat, one of them will die before the year is over.

  • If three people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first.

  • If two people in the same house are sick and one dies, the other will improve in health.

  • The first person that leaves the graveyard after a funeral will bring a death to his family.

  • A person who walks over three graves will die before the year is out.

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  • One who sees themself die in a dream, will die in reality.

  • If a person dreams about a birth, someone they know will die.

  • To dream of a deceased person in an agitated state means that they are in hell. To dream of them in a pleasant state means they have gone to heaven.

  • Touching a corpse on the forehead assures you will not dream of the dead.

On the Money

  • Leave a coin at the gate of the deceased family’s home for good luck.

  • Coins placed over the eyes of the deceased kept them from coming open. If the eyes of the corpse remained open, he was said to be looking for a follower and another death would soon happen

  • Finding a four-leaf clover on a grave foretells a friend coming to visit to give you some money.

  • As long as the funeral bill remains unpaid, the corpse will not rest in its grave.

A final word to the wise: shaving with a dead man’s razor will turn a beard prematurely gray. Consider yourself warned.

Reymershoffer4

Lachrymatories: Tear Bottles

Psalm 56:8

You have kept count of my tossings

put my tears in your bottle

Are they not in your record?

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     Although they are thought to pre-date Christ by 1,000 years lachrymatories, or tear jars, had become common in Roman times. Used to collect tears from mourners, they were placed in tombs as momentos of respect.

     As with everythingTEAR BOTTLE 11.1.06 FRONT else related to mourning, they regained popularity during Victorian times. Tears were gathered in the bottles and saved by the mourners. Specially designedtumblr_m2yty6rLZG1qcu0ewo1_500 stoppers  allowed the tears to slowly evaporate. When the moisture disappeared from the bottle, it could be taken as a sign that the mourning period had ended – a much more forgiving timeline than most mourning traditions of the day.

     During elaborate funerals during that era, lachrymatories were distributed to men and women alike to aid in their grief.

     During the eb2a77933d9fc2d4aba211ed943d6875American Civil War, soldiers sometimes gifted their wives and loved ones with tear bottles to fill while they were away. It was seen as a way to prove to a returning warrior that they had been dearly missed. Too often, though, the intended recipient never came home.

     Often mistaken for antique perfume vials, lachrymatory can occasionally be found in shops and on eBay.

     If you have one of these delicate treasures in your collection, please share a photo with us!

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Reymershoffer4

Coffin or Casket: What’s the Difference?

While I was at a museum the other day, one of the archivists asked me a question that I hear often:   “What is the difference between a coffin and a casket…or is there one?”

Victorian-Coffin-PlaqueI was glad I had the answer to share with her. Yes, there is a difference although we tend to use the two terms interchangeably.

COFFIN

3-PineWooden coffins, which came into use around the early part of the 16th century in the western world, typically have six sides, and the lid lifts off completely. Once the deceased was placed inside, the lid was nailed shut. Think about the classic Halloween decoration or old black-and-white vampire movies, and you have the idea.

The silhouette is wider at the shoulders and narrows toward the feet. The only handles, if any at all, would have been functional loops of rope to carry it to the graveyard.

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You may be surprised that this was a term originally used for jewelry boxes. When the Victorian sensibilities of proper mourning and tribute came into fashion, the word “casket” began being used for the burial receptacles as well. It makes sense I suppose, since it would hold something precious and certainly sound kinder to the ears of those left behind.

The casket is different in shape as well, being elongated and four-sided.

Some caskets feature a split lid to allow for easier viewing of the deceased. This would have been impractical with wooden coffins. The lid of a casket is also hinged, so it is hover entirely detached from the lower portion.

Lined with metal on the interior, unlike coffins, caskets also usually feature six metal handles for pallbearers.

Bits of Related Trivia:

bask1001bThe Greek word “kophinos,” meaning basket, refers to the fact that wicker baskets were used in days gone by. There is a new interest in utilizing them for “green burials.”

Ancient Greeks often buried their dead in a sitting position in clay pottery.

7afdbc54dc8e55dab501e2277596efed “Fittings” or “coffin furniture” were/are external details such as crucifixes, handles and name plates. The local mortician would often offer “rental” of such adornments which would then be removed immediately before burial.

“Trim” was a term used to refer to fabric used to line the interior of coffins.

When a coffin is newPall2-1used to transport a deceased person it is called a “pall,” hence the term “pallbearer” for those that carry it. The word can also refer to a cloth used to drape over the coffin.

I hope that you found this posting interesting…and not too morbid.

What bit of trivia do you have to share about the subject?

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