"Did You Know?" Interesting Facts About Cemeteries.. Do you know the difference between a coffin, a casket and a sarcophagus? It's the shape! A coffin is wider at the shoulders, narrower at the head and feet. A coffin is rectangular and a sarcophagus is more molded into the shape of the human body and often had a portrait of the deceased painted on the lid. Based on a standard grave size of 3' x 8', one acre of land will provide enough space for 1,815 graves. The typical iconography for Faith (cross), Hope (anchor), and Charity (mother and child) are among the most commonly used Victorian funerary symbols. Even groupings of three, such as three steps into a chapel or mausoleum, or tiers on a monument, may signify this most favored symbolism of heavenly apiration. The upward pointing obelisk (another popular monument style) will often have a three layer base. The custom of shutting the eyes of the deceased is believed to have begun this way, done in an attempt to close a 'window' from the living world to the spirit world. Covering the face of the deceased with a sheet comes from pagan beliefs that the spirit of the deceased escaped through the mouth. In some cultures, the home of the deceased was burned or destroyed to keep his spirit from returning; in others the doors were unlocked and windows were opened to ensure that the soul was able to escape. In 19th century Europe and America the dead were carried out of the house feet first, in order to prevent the spirit from looking back into the house and beckoning another member of the family to follow him. Mirrors were also covered, usually with black crepe, so the soul would not get trapped and not be able to pass to the other side. Family photographs were also sometimes turned face-down to prevent any of the close relatives and friends of the deceased from being possessed by the spirit of the dead. Some cultures took their fear of ghosts to an extreme. The Saxons of early England cut off the feet of their dead so the corpse would be unable to walk. Some aborigine tribes took the even more extreme step of cutting off the head of the dead, thinking this would leave the spirit too busy searching for his head to worry about the living. The use of tombstones may go back to the belief that ghosts could be weighed down. Mazes found at the entrance to many ancient tombs are thought to have been constructed to keep the deceased from returning to the world as a spirit, since it was believed that ghosts could only travel in a straight line. Some people even considered it necessary for the funeral procession to return from the graveside by a different path from the one taken in with the deceased, so that the departed's ghost wouldn't be able to follow them home. Some of the rituals which we now practice as a sign of respect to the deceased, may also be rooted in a fear of spirits. Beating on the grave, the firing of guns, funeral bells, and wailing chants were all used by some cultures to scare away other ghosts at the cemetery. In many cemeteries, the vast majority of graves are oriented in such a manner that the bodies lie with their heads to the West and their feet to the East. This very 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. Did you know... In 1785, the city of Paris removed bones from cemeteries to ease the overflow of dead people. They took these bones and stacked them in tunnels now known as the Catacombs. You can visit these tunnel attractions and work your way along long corridors, which are stacked with skulls and bones. What is the difference between a cemetery & a graveyard? Graveyards are in the "yards" of churches. What's the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? Answer: A graveyard is always adjacent to and part of a church. Did you know... In Czechoslovakia, there is a church that has a chandelier made out of human bones. The sound of bells drives away demons because they're afraid of the loud noise. When a bell rings, a new angel has received his wings. A bird in the house is a sign of a death. If a robin flies into a room through a window, death will shortly follow. If you get a chill up your back or goosebumps, it means that someone is walking over your grave. Light candles on the night after November 1. One for each deceased relative should be placed in the window in the room where death occurred. You must hold your breath while going past a cemetery or you will breathe in the spirit of someone who has recently died. If a clock which has not been working suddenly chimes, there will be a death in the family. You will have bad luck if you do not stop the clock in the room where someone dies. If a woman is buried in black, she will return to haunt the family. If a dead person's eyes are left open, he'll find someone to take with him. Mirrors in a house with a corpse should be covered or the person who sees himself will die next. If you dream of death it's a sign of a birth, if you dream of birth, it's a sign of death. If you touch a loved one who has died, you won't have dreams about them A person who dies on Good Friday will go right to heaven. A person who dies at midnight on Christmas Eve will go straight to heaven because the gates of heaven are open at that time. All windows should be opened at the moment of death so that the soul can leave. The soul of a dying person can't escape the body and go to heaven if any locks are locked in the house. If the left eye twitches there will soon be a death in the family. If a dead person's eyes are left open, he'll find someone to take with him. Funerals on Friday portend another death in the family during the year. It's bad luck to count the cars in a funeral cortege. It's bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. Thunder following a funeral means that the dead person's soul has reached heaven. Nothing new should be worn to a funeral, especially new shoes. Pointing at a funeral procession will cause you to die within the month Pregnant women should not attend funerals. If the person buried lived a good life, flowers will grow on the grave. If the person was evil, weeds will grow. MIRROR If a mirror in the house falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will die soon. MOTH A white moth inside the house or trying to enter the house means death. PHOTOGRAPH If 3 people are photographed together, the one in the middle will die first. THIRTEEN If 13 people sit down at a table to eat, one of them will die before the year is over. UMBRELLA Dropping an umbrella on the floor means that there will be a murder in the house.
Back to Perquimans County Cemetery Links Page