Yes this is a llittle macabre
so if you haven’t had your morning coffee yet, you may want to read it later! It’s not a great subject, but it’s a cultural norm that you may come across sometime …
I’d just been checking something on the KEP website (which, by the way, has had an overhaul and there’s some new info there ( www.kep.gov.gr
) and what caught my eye this morning was
“Granting of license for transport of bones”.
This brought back memories of when, newly married, my husband got up one Sunday morning and said the family were off to move Papou’s (grandfather’s) bones from the grave that day. Did I hear him right ? Yes!
As the Greek Orthodox church doesn’t allow cremation there is a shortage of graves. Concrete tombs are used in cemeteries, and in most cases they are rented from the church for 3 to 5 years. After this time the tomb is opened and the bones removed, to make way for the next unlucky occupant. The bones are removed by family and transported either to the family grave where other relatives lay (which may be miles away from where they died and were buried – e.g. Athens or another island), or they are kept in a special vault at the church (I’ve had nightmares about walking into one of these vaults).
The whole scenario is far removed from what most North Europeans would expect, as is the whole funeral and grieving process.
A chapter and web page on funeral customs and etiquette must be included soon I think?