Funeral Traditions in Greece

by J-Touchette

Land is a valuable resource in Greece so the state requires the recycling of cemetery space. Some permanent plots are still available, but they can cost up to 150,000 euros (more than $200,000). If you can't afford this extravagance, you must rent a grave, and only for a maximum of three years.

The people of Greece are mostly Christian, with many following the Greek Orthodox tradition in particular.

In the Greek Orthodox tradition, the funeral is usually held within two to three days and sometimes up to a week but may not be scheduled on Sunday or Holy Saturday. The body may be embalmed, but cremation is frowned upon and the church may refuse to perform a service.

Sometimes, services includes a wake the night before where eulogies may be read by family and friends and the priest may perform some readings. Held in the church, the funeral ceremony will last around 30 to 60 minutes, and is not part of a larger service. Hymns are sung and prayers are read. The casket is open, where a procession of people give the deceased a goodbye kiss. Mourners do not actually kiss the body, but an icon or cross on the deceased’s chest.

Guests usually attend the internment, and each person places a single flower on the casket, during a very short ceremony. Afterwards, the family provides what is called a mercy meal for their guests.

The bereaved usually stay home from work for one week and may avoid social gatherings for two months. Widows can wear black for up to two years, and a memorial service is performed on the Sunday nearest to the fortieth day after death, and again on the one year anniversary.

Read more:

Greek Orthodox Funeral Traditions | The Family Plot

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