Wednesday, September 21, 2022



Today is the National Day of Mourning in Australia, in honour of her Maj, a public holiday but is it just JAH? Just another holiday? My view is that it is, we have done our mourning and expressed our feelings, the funeral has been held and Charlie 3 has the royal bottom firmly ensconced on the monarchical throne.

Speaking of which, according to a royal official whilst she was alive, the Queen was not fussy when it came to sitting on the porcelain throne and did not bring her own seat whilst on tour. Tom Bowers' biography of Charles, titled Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles, claimed the prince took luxury toilet paper, his own toilet seat, an orthopaedic mattress, and two paintings of the Scottish Highlands with him when he went on long trips. Chazza was asked about this during his 7 day 2018 tour of Australia when a reporter from Brisbane’s Hit 105 station asked if it was true that he took his own toilet seat with him on trips abroad. The Prince of Wales said, “My own what?! Oh, don’t believe all that crap. The very idea!”

Camilla also hit back when she was asked: “Hi Camilla. So he doesn’t carry his own toilet seat when he travels?”  The Duchess of Cornwall replied: “Don’t you believe that.”


So what to post on this day off from work?

How about some facts about funerals and burials? . . .


The following is from the website of Harry L Marks Memorials, which bills itself as “the number one gravestone makers in Birmingham” (England). It can be accessed by clicking on:



1.Wearing black dates back to Roman times

Unless requested to wear a specific colour, it is usually respectful to wear black or dark shades to funeral services. It is believed that this tradition dates back to the Roman period, where individuals would wear a dark toga (known as a toga pulla) after the passing of a loved one or family member. This tradition persisted throughout British history, with the Victorians in particular favouring black as the colour of mourning.

2.The word funeral was first used in the 1300s

The word ‘funeral’ is believed to have first been used by Geoffrey Chaucer, who is often considered the father of the English language. It appeared in writing in his Middle English work The Knight’s Tale, in which he refers to a ‘funeral servyse’ after a character passes away. It was published in 1386, making it the first written use of the word funeral that we know of.

3.Flowers and candles were first used to mask unpleasant smells

There is a lot of symbolism surrounding the use of flowers at funerals and it is commonplace to include flowers in a service today (with roses, lilies and carnations particularly popular choices). However, it is believed that using flowers became particularly common in the history of funerals as they helped to mask any unpleasant odours.

Technology and mortuary processes have improved, meaning this is no longer an obstacle. However the practice of bringing flowers to a funeral has endured.

4.Burials used to be more common than cremation

Throughout funeral history, there have been many different ways of laying a person to rest. Archaeological evidence has suggested that cremation was a practice used as far back as the Anglo-Saxon period in the United Kingdom.

However, burials became more common as time progressed. This can often be associated with the Christian belief in resurrection, where it was believed that burial would allow the dead to be facing Christ on the day of resurrection.

Today, cremation and burial are often equally popular options.

5. Victorians popularised carved headstones

While grave markers have been used throughout British history (with Stonehenge one of our most famous ancient grave sites), engraved or carved headstones became increasingly popular in the Victorian era. Inscriptions, bible verses and messages about the loved one were often included, as well as artistic decoration. This is something that has endured today, with many choosing a bespoke headstone with beautiful carvings to honour their loved ones.

6.Rosemary was often used in place of flowers

While flowers are common at services throughout the world, rosemary also has a significant place in the history of funerals too. This fragrant herb is rich in symbolism, with its meaning ranging from remembrance to loyalty and friendship. As an evergreen plant, it was often also associated with eternal life.

There may be a practical reason why rosemary was often used at funerals too. Before mortuary science developed, the fragrant herb may have been used to mask unpleasant odours.

7.Professional mourners were often hired for Roman funerals

Much like traditional funeral processions today, the Romans used to hold processions to honour their dead. However, they looked very different to the type of procession you would see in contemporary Britain. The larger and noisier the procession, the wealthier or more important the deceased would be. For this reason, professional mourners were sometimes hired to ensure that the procession was as large and noisy as possible.

8.The first evidence of cremation was 20,000 years ago

Cremation is often a common practice today, with many choosing this option over a burial. For this reason, we may often think that cremation is a relatively new process. While it is certainly true that cremation has gained popularity since the Victorian era, the oldest evidence of cremation in funeral history is believed to be over 20,000 years old.

This archaeological evidence was found in Australia, near Lake Mungo (and is aptly known as the Mungo Lady).

(Yay for Oz).

9.Mourners used to stop the clocks when a loved one passed away

There are many different traditions in the history of funerals that we continue to do today. However, there are some that are less commonly practised too. One of these less commonly used rituals is for mourners to stop the clocks in the room or house where a loved one passed away.

This was a popular ritual during the Victorian period and was originally thought to prevent bad luck, as well as symbolise the loved one’s passage into a new life without time. It was commonly done in conjunction with covering the mirrors, closing the curtains and turning over portraits of the loved one.

(Remember the poem read out at the funeral in Four Weddings and a Funeral? It is called Funeral Blues and is by W H Auden. It begins:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

10.Wakes were originally held in case the deceased returned to life

In the history of funerals and wakes, many of the rituals or traditions we have can be traced back to pagan practises. It is thought that the tradition of a wake can be traced back to pre-Christian times, in which family members would keep a constant vigil over their deceased loved one lest they wake. It is also thought that this vigil would help to prevent evil spirits from taking hold. It is typically believed that this type of wake would be held before the funeral or burial.

Today, we tend to hold a wake after the burial or funeral service. Instead of keeping vigil over the body, we use this time to celebrate our loved one’s life and grieve together with friends and family.

11.Celebration of life services were often held in the 1800s

In modern funeral ceremonies, it is becoming increasingly popular to forgo a traditional service in favour of a celebration of life. Instead of a sad occasion, these celebrations are designed to be more upbeat and rejoice in the life and achievements of a loved one.

While this might seem like quite a modern trend, the practice actually dates back to the 1800s. In this funeral history period, celebratory feasts were hosted in the deceased’s honour after the burial.

12.Obituaries for ‘the common man’ became commonplace in the 20th century

Throughout the history of funerals, obituaries or published death announcements have been somewhat commonplace. There is evidence of obituaries from the 1600s, and it was customary in the 1800s for public figures to have their death announced to the community (or the country).

However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that obituaries for non-prolific individuals became common. These were often announced in the local paper, giving the date of death and the details of the funeral. This is something that is still done today, as well as the use of online methods through social media, to publicly announce a death.


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