19th Century funeral practices


Forums User
5 years, 9 months ago

After the death of a loved one were there any common practises in the 19th Century (Amoungst the Irish Catholics specially) to remember loved ones at home after the funeral . Ie. the keeping of a candle lit in rememberance or a setting of a place at the family table in remembrance?
I hope that makes sense? Strange question I’m sure, but any information or direction you might be able to provide would be much apprappreciated.

Molly Gorny
5 years, 9 months ago

The 19th century is rich with funeral tradition no doubt due to the many deaths that were the result of the Civil War. In fact, this was the period where we saw widespread adoption of embalming and the rise of the profession of funeral director. There are many historical references (and photographs) of the practices of the day. Elaborate memorial attire and funeral photography were particularly popular. We found some references to leaving an empty chair, but it’s hard to say where this practice originated. It is found in both Christian and Jewish culture and doesn’t seem to have been especially common during the 19th century. Here is one interesting article that offers a list of Victorian funeral customs. https://www.ranker.com/list/victorian-death-and-mourning-customs/lisa-waugh. Many of these customs are mentioned a variety of references.

The tradition of burning a candle in memory of a loved one seems to date back to ancient times. Memorial candles are common in many religious cultures. We have found references to their use not just in Christian and Jewish culture, but in pagan and Wiccan as well.

We hope that this is somewhat helpful.

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