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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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POLISH FUNERAL

IN POLAND NO EMBALMING TAKES PLACE. THE DECEASED IS LAID OUT
FOR 3 DAYS IN THEIR OWN HOME.
CANDLES ARE SET AT THE HEAD AND FOOT OF THE DECEASED.
FLOWERS ARE THEN ARRANGED AROUND THE CASKET, WHICH
IS SET ON A SMALL PLATFORM USED BY THE VILLAGE. THE CASKET IS
MADE OF VARNISHED WOOD, AND IS
USUALLY DECORATED BY FOLK ART COMMON
TO THAT REGION. THIS IS SOMETIMES DONE WITH STEEL
PINS TO OUTLINE THE
DESIGN OR IS PAINTED ON TOP OF THE CASKET. ON THE FOURTH DAY,
THE BURIAL TAKES PLACE. A PROCESSION FROM THE HOUSE TO THE
CHURCH FORMS WITH THE ALTAR BOYS
GOING FIRST. THE OUTSIDE BOYS CARRY
LIGHTED CANDLES, WHILE THE BOY IN THE MIDDLE CARRIES THE CRUCIFIX.
THEN THE PRIEST FOLLOWS, LEADING HYMMS FOR THE REPOSE OF THE SOUL.
A HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE FOLLOWS, CARRYIMG THE BODY OF THE DECEASED.
THE FLOWERS FROM THE HOUSE ARE PUT AROUND THE CASKET, AND THE REST
ARE PUT ON TOP OF THE CARRIAGE. MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY FOLLOW IN
ORDER OF RELATEDNESS TO THE DECEASED. EXAMPLE=HUSBAND AND KIDS
FIRST. A MASS IS SAID AT THE CHURCH FOR THE REPOSE OF THE SOUL.
ALL TRADITIONAL SONGS OF THE PARTICULAR REGION ARE SUNG. AT THE
END OF MASS, THE SAME PROCESSION IS FORMED IN EXACTLY THE SAME
ORDER AS BEFORE. AGAIN THE PRIEST LEADS THE MOURNERS IN LOCAL
HYMMS. THE CARRIAGE FOLLOWS WITH
THE MOURNERS BEHIND THE CARRIAGE.
AT THE CEMETERY, THE GRAVE HAS
ALREADY BEEN DUG, WITH THE PLANKS PLACED
ACROSS THE HOLE. THE PRIEST
SAYS THE RITUAL AND BLESSES THE
GROUND. THEN THE CASKET IS NAILED SHUT,
AND IS LOWERED INTO THE GRAVE.
THE RELATIVE CLOSEST TO THE DECEASED THEN THROWS THE FIRST HANDFUL
OF DIRT. THEN EVERYONE, IN FAMILY ORDER, THROWS A HANDFUL OF
DIRT. EVERYONE LEAVES IN ORDER TO GIVE THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY A
CHANCE TO PAY THEIR FINAL RESPECTS.

Submitter comment: VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THIS FUNERAL CHANGE FROM REGION TO REGION.
ATTENDED FUNERAL AS SUCH MYSELF WHILE IN POLAND

Where learned: POLAND ; CHELMNO

James Callow Keyword(s): NUMBER ; SYMBOL

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial

Date learned: 07-00-1971

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