Portuguese Funerals

by J-Touchette

A Catholic cemetery in a small village of Alentejo, Portugal.

In Portugal, the dominant religion is Roman Catholic with a history that reaches back as far as the 12th century. Around 97% of residents claim to be practicing Roman Catholics. And so, while the Catholic church has all but completely standardized funeral ceremonies for their faithful, having even banned some songs, the Portuguese still find a way to personalize the ceremony.

With the idea of family so important to the Portuguese, it’s not surprising to discover that their funerals draw quite a crowd as distant relatives and many more attend the end of life ceremony.

A hearse in the country of Portugal is quite different from a traditional western hearse. It looks similar to a van, however, the back portion for the casket and the wall in the rear happen to be made of mostly glass. The casket sits on a raised platform in the hearse-van. This setup ensures that mourners can look in on the casket and the flower arrangement around the casket that is usually present.

Mourners walk along with the extremely slow moving hearse to the cemetery. The only time this part of their tradition isn’t observed is when the walk would be unreasonably long.

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