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persblog.be Update – October 28, 2016

13 Strange Superstitions About Death

The Huffington Post by Garry Rodgers on 2016.01.18

(…) I thought I’d share thirteen strange superstitions about death. 13. Coins On The Eyes – The practice dates back to the ancient Greeks who believed the dead would travel down to Hades and need to cross the river Styx in order to arrive in the afterlife. To cross over, they needed to pay the boat driver, Charon, so coins were placed over the eyes of the dead so they’d be able to pay the fare. Secondly, and more practically, many people die with their eyes open. This can be a creepy feeling, having the dead stare at you, and it was thought the dead might be eyeing someone to go with them. Coins were a practical item to weigh down the eyelids until rigor mortis set in — coins being round and fit in the eye sockets as well as being relatively heavy. (…) 12. Birds And Death – Birds were long held to be messengers to the afterlife because of their ability to soar through the air to the homes of the gods. It’s not surprising that a number of myths materialized such as hearing an owl hoot your name, ravens and crows circling your house, striking your window, entering your house, or sitting on your sill looking in. (…) 11. Burying The Dead Facing East – You probably never noticed, but most cemeteries are laid out on an east-west grid with the headstones on the west and the feet pointing east. This comes from the belief that the dead should be able to see the new world rising in the east, as with the sun. (…) 10. Remove A Corpse Feet First – This was Body Removal 101 that we learned in coroner school. We always removed a body from a house with the feet first. The practice dates from Victorian times when it was thought if the corpse went out head first, it’d be able to “look back” and beckon those standing behind to follow. (…) 9. Cover The Mirrors – It’s been held that all mirrors within the vicinity of a dead body must be covered to prevent the soul from being reflected back during its attempt to pass out of the body and on to the afterlife. (…) 8.Stop The Clock – Apparently this was a sign that time was over for the dead and that the clock must not be restarted until the deceased was buried. If it were the head of the household who died, then that clock would never be started again. 7. Flowers On The Grave – Another odd belief is about flowers growing on a grave. If wildflowers appeared naturally, it was a sign the deceased had been good and had gone on to heaven. Conversely, a barren and dusty grave was a sign of evil and Hades. The custom evolved to putting artificial flowers on the grave although it’s now discouraged by most cemeteries due to maintenance issues. (…) 6. Pregnant Women Must Avoid Funerals – (…) It seems to have come from a perceived risk where pregnant women might be overcome by emotion during the funeral ceremony and miscarry. 5. Celebrities Die In Threes –  Most people heard that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson died three days in a row. It’s an urban myth that this always occurs with celebrities and it’s the celebrity curse. (…) 4. Hold Your Breath – Another popular superstition is that you must hold your breath while passing a graveyard to prevent drawing in a restless spirit that’s trying to re-enter the physical world. (…) 3. And The Thunder Rolls – (…) It’s thought that hearing thunder during a funeral service is a sign of the departed’s soul being accepted into heaven. (…) 2. Funeral Processions – There’re lots of superstitious beliefs around funeral processions. First, it’s considered very bad fortune to transport a body in your own vehicle. And approaching a funeral procession without pulling over to the side and stopping is not only bad taste, it’s illegal in some jurisdictions. It’s said if a procession stops along the way, another person will soon die and the corpse must never pass over the same section of road twice. Counting cars in a procession is dangerous because it’s like counting the days till your own death. You must never see your reflection in a hearse window as that marks you as a goner. Bringing a baby to a funeral ensures it will die before it turns one. And a black cat crossing before a procession dooms the entire parade. (…) 1. Leaving A Grave Open Overnight – I see this superstition as good, practical advice. According to the International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association, the standard grave size is 2 ½ feet wide by 8 feet long by 6 feet deep. ◊◊◊

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