History of American Funeral Customs

A funeral is defined as a ceremony which marks a persons death. According to research, funeral rites have been around for at least 300,000 years. A funeral can include prayers, memorials, and various rituals, and among different cultures, funeral customs vary greatly. A funeral also may or may not be religious depending on the families beliefs. Throughout the course of history funerals rites and customs have undergone many changes and the history of funeral customs is quite interesting.

Funerals in the United States have been around as long as the country itself but have undergone many changes throughout the years. While funerals of the past focused on a person's death, the focus has now shifted to a celebration of the deceased person's life, and more emphasis is being placed on individual expression of feelings through music, eulogies, and a variety of other means. The amount of cremations in the United States has risen to more than 28% which includes Roman Catholics, although the Roman Catholic church did not allow cremations until 1963. Americans now know much more about the environment than they did in the past, and this means that more and more people are choosing eco-friendly caskets as well as promoting “green cemeteries”.

Funerals have not only changed throughout time in the United States but in many other countries as well. The funeral rites and passages that are practiced are very different in many countries and in each different culture. With time, funeral customs will probably continue to change and evolve as they have in the past.

NMFH – the website for the National Museum of Funeral History located in Houston, Texas

Cross Cultural Funeral Rites – an article on how many funerals now include traditions from multiple cultures

History of Funerals - an extensive article on the history of funeral rites from early periods up to recent times

African American Cemeteries – information on African American funeral customs and their history

Remembering At Death – an extensive article on funerals and their related rituals

Pet Urns – a wide variety of pet urns and memorials

Greek-American Traditions – the history of funeral customs and traditions of Greek-Americans

History of Funeral Customs – information on the history of funeral customs from The Wyoming Funeral Directors Association

Death: The Last Taboo – information on customs and rituals that surround someone's death and how they differ in various parts of the world

Cremation Jewelry – cremation jewelry to hold a small portion of cremains, soil or dried flowers

Funerals at Sea - information on the history of burials/funerals at sea

Funeral Homes & Practices - a history of funeral homes and practices in the United States

Burial Customs – the history of burial customs of many different areas and cultures

Native American Burial Mounds – the history and traditions of Native American burial customs

Cremation Urns - a large selection of cremation urns at affordable prices

Death, Loss, Grief - a collection of various resources on death, loss, and dealing with grief