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Ever wonder why we do some of the things we do when someone passes on?

Well, most of it is based in history, fantasy, and mystery.

In every movie I’ve ever seen where there’s a dead body, the body is covered with a sheet.  Why?  Pagan tribes believed the spirit of the dead escaped through the mouth. If they held the mouth and nose of a sick person shut, they could delay death!

Oops! Asphyxiation.

What about that big meal in the Church Fellowship hall or back at the farm?

One of the scariest Twilight Zone episodes I saw as a child was called “The Sin Eater.”

Twilight Zone

I remember it vividly.

In pre-Christian times, food offerings were made for the dead.  Often times a sin-eater would come and dine from dishes placed around the body of the dead, devouring his sins and clearing his way for a better afterlife.

Pass the mayo, the roast beef’s a tad dry!

That drunken wake? Our fore-fathers kept watch over the body with the hope that life would return.  Many needed some liquid courage!

Candles?  Fire protected the dead from evil spirits.


Even the 21 gun salute has its roots in paganism.  The rifle volley fired over the body is an image of more primitive times when spears were thrown into the air; again, the spears scared off those nasty evil spirits!

Holy water was used to protect the deceased from demons.

And how about all those flowers?

Well, that was to gain favor with the dead in hopes that his spirit would help you in the future. Not to mention keep the odor down.

Funeral Flowers

So, now you know!

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