Burial Traditions from Around the World

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National Free Planning Kit

The traditional portrayal of a Western burial frequently seen in our lives, movies and TV only reflects how a small percentage of our world memorializes their loved ones. Let’s take a look at a few other cultures and the unique burial traditions seen around the world!

The already dense population of South Korea is growing rapidly. In order to combat a lack of new burial spaces, a new law passed in 2000 stated that bodies must be removed from their graves 60 years after the date of death. This has led to a steep increase of cremation in South Korea, but not for everyone. A new trend has quickly emerged which allows families to transform the remains of their loved ones into brightly colored burial beads. The multicolored stone like gems aren’t displayed in a traditional urn as ashes are, but in clear or glass dishes and containers for all to see.  This practice is slowing becoming more popular in other cultures, and was recently introduced in North America.

In many European countries, cremation accounts for almost 70% of the burials and that number is on the rise. In historic parts of the countryside, tourists can find modern cemeteries that have been around for hundreds of years. To combat the lack of space and overcrowding here, they have not yet resorted to beads! People who prefer a traditional in ground burial here are often presented with the option of a lawn crypt burial, which can accommodate multiple members of the same family in one area. This option is also very popular in the United States.

In Ghana, Africa personalized fantasy coffins are created to represent something the person once loved. For example, fisherman can request a coffin in the shape of a fish, but other models include cars, boats and tools that represent the trade industry. While a custom coffin may be a bit over the top for you, personalizing your memorial service with things that represent your job, craft or passions are a great way to incorporate a small part of this tradition into your burial.

Tourists visit New Orleans, Louisiana for the food, drinks and most of all – live music. The heart of the city is populated with generations of soulful spirits, who would rather be celebrated in their death than mourned. Funeral traditions here combine eastern and western culture and a true New Orleans style jazz funeral will start with a procession through the city until the cemetery is reached. Accompanied by the city’s artists slow marches are mixed with blues and high energy jazz represent a person’s journey from mourning to celebration. Music does not always have to represent sadness at funerals, and your music choices can reflect celebration and joy!