Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Irish Funeral Traditions: The Wake

The Irish are famous for many things like their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, love of Guiness beer, and we can’t forget the accent! With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d explore Irish funeral traditions.

The Wake
A wake used to be a very lively event, and for some it still is. However, in recent years there has been a shift to making it a more somber event. In years past, the wake would be held in a house. The deceased would be laid down to rest, while stories were shared, laughs filled the air, and drinks were all around! The body is not to be left alone at any time. A person, usually a woman, sits nearby at all times.

Some traditions include stopping all the clocks in the house at the time of death. Some believe this is an effort to help the dead pass on, when they realize time isn’t passing. Others believe this was an effort to help the doctor know when to declare an exact time of death when he arrived.

Anther tradition includes turning all mirrors and pictures. It was said that a soul could get trapped in a reflective surface. Later they would haunt the home. While this may sound hokey, this stemmed from a time when there was an unhealthy interest in death. (Think Victorian era.)

Another common tradition at the wake would be to have every male caller take at least one puff from a pipe to lift evil spirits from the body. Some would place the pipe next to the deceased, even on their chests!

Want to read more about the Irish wake? Click HERE OR HERE

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