Funeral traditions in Poland

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Funeral traditions in Poland

  1. 1. WeronikaDomagała
  2. 2. Superstition - unfounded belief in the existence of aconnection between the events. They are associated withstereotypes of tradition and culture. Tradition - passed down from generation to generationcultural content (such as customs, ideas, beliefs, ways ofthinking and behavior)
  3. 3. The first is the tradition of near-death rituals. If deathoccurs at home, and it is predictable (for example, is the resultof long-term disease) we speak about near-death rituals. When a person is dying, a priest is called to come homefrom the nearest church. The priest administers the Anoiting ofthe Sick-, the Sacrament of Penance, and the Holy Communion.If possible, in the room where the sick person is lying, thereshould be a table covered with a white cloth, and the ritualobjects like holy water, the cross, the two lighted candles andcotton wool to wipe the oil should be present.
  4. 4. When the Sacrament of Penance is being administered,the family, friends and neighbours gather in the next room andpray. A large candle lighted at the deathbed is put into handsof dying person – the reason of this is to light the way to heavenfor his soul. This candle is lit for the second time after the bodyis put into the coffing, and taken into the cemetery. It should belit to the very end of the funeral ceremony. The attention is also put the fact that the death is not tobe disturbed -you should not touch the dying person, cry overhim, because otherwise the death will last for a very long time.
  5. 5.  After the death, if it is necessary we should close the eyes of the deceased. Sometimes, the eyelids open, then the coins are put on them to prevent them from opening again. According to popular local superstition, you cannot look into the eyes of the dead, as it means a quick death of a viewer. Coins which have used in the ceremony are put into the coffin - like anything else which dead person had a direct contact with, or what has been prepared for him. The next step is the cleaning and dressing of the body which is usually done the dead person’s children - daughter prepares her mother for the funeral, the father is prepared by his son. The outfit of the deceased person depends on his/her marital status. Woman are burried in head kerchiefs, caps are put on men’s heads. Unmarried girls are dressed in a wedding gown and veil, unmarried boys in wedding suit. Unmarried women have two handkerchiefs on the head - white and black, tied on top. However, an unmarried mans clothing has another special feature – a white handkerchief is put into small jacket’s pocket.
  6. 6. The number of objects that are connected to a tradition areput into the coffin. Those are primarily a rosary and a picture of thepatron of the deceased. A prayer book, little money, favouritetrinkets of the deceased (comb, mirror) are placed in the coffin, too.Deceased that were smokers are often given a cigarette-cases. It alsohappens that the items associated with the daily activities of thedeceased (awl and a hank of wool, books, etc) are also put into thecoffin. However, the flowers should not be put into the coffin, unlessthe funeral is a holiday of deceased person (for example, nameday)and the bouquet is a gift from the family.
  7. 7. The singer is often present during the funeral rite. This is a personwho leads the prayers at home of the deceased person, and at the funeralrite itself. He uses its own, unique collection of books with songs chosenespecially for this occasion. Singers were mostly elderly people, mostlywomen and these priceless books were often passed from mother todaugther. Nearly every major village had its own singer, and if not – shewas invited to the funeral from the neighboring village. In this case, inaddition to the customary invitation to the small mourning party, it wasnecessary to pay the singer.
  8. 8.  The prayers and singing around the dead body intersplaced withmoments of silence and recalling the memories of the deceased. There aresuperstitions connected with the wake. First, the dead can not be left athome alone, the light must be constant on in the room where the coffinwith the body is kept. Unfortunately, the meaning and significance ofthese superstitions are not known, even by the oldest inhabitants of thevillages. They just know that this is the way it needs to be done, and theycontinue to practice these rites. The tradition also states that we should put a black masking material on the mirrors, or turn them around so they face the wall. We should also remove all the potential reflecting surfaces such as water ( puddles of water, or any other fluid) which can cause that the dead will see his face in the reflection. If the deceased will be reflected in the mirror - the death will not leave the place for a long time
  9. 9. Until coming back from the funeral we should stop all the clocks on thehour of the death of the deceased so to show that time has no meaning inthis house, so the death can no longer take anyone away. Living tradition, even for today, is rubbing the moles with thedeceased person’s index finger as it was believed that after this "treatment"all moles will disappear. At the time when the coffin is in the house, and all the familymembers, neighbours and friends are gathering around the body we need topay special attention to the bouquets and wreaths laid beside the coffin. Ifany of the flowers is clear of branches, it must be inserted back into thebunch and necessarily taken to the cemetery. These flowers symbolize theremoval of the death and makes it impossible to return to the family.
  10. 10. Pregnant women should attend the wake.However, if a woman belongs to the immediate family,or just want to participate in the prayers, she must becareful to not to look in the face of the deceased.According to tradition, it is dangerous for a child whomay be born with the face similar to the deceased person. It is also important to determine the date of thefuneral itself. It is believed that the body should not beat home on Sunday, as it is a sign that another funeralin the family will occur soon.
  11. 11. The last important tradition associated with the funeral in thecountry is certainly a mourning party after the funeral. This refers to ameal for immediate family, neighbors and friends of the deceased, held afterthe ceremony at the cemetery, usually in the house of the deceased. In thepast, it was more like meeting for prayers, now is becoming more informalin character. Very important element of this event is the alcohol – althoughin small amounts no one can’t able to drink it. If the event takes place at home where the deceased lived it mustbe remembered that until the next day we can not clean the table. Theleftovers will be the last meal for the deceased.
  12. 12. Although there is no formal obligation to dress in blackand abandon the social life in rural areas, these restrictions arequite strictly kept. Grief usually lasts for one year, and itincludes the immediate family of the deceased, parents, children,siblings, but for the grandchildren this period last for six weeks.Beautiful, but sad at the same time, an unwritten custom saysparents cannot wear black clothes when they childern died. Thevillagers believe that the deceased child bears the jar in heavenwith tears of his beloved ones.

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