This thread is a spill over from a fascinating discussion in the Paris forum about 'love locks'.
As you're probably aware, attaching padlocks to a bridge as a sign of romantic commitment is a trend that seemed to gain momentum around the turn of the millenium. It is generally regarded as a nuisance by city authorities (who remove them regularly in places like Paris) who tend to view this as an annoying 'fad'.
However, didn't 'ancient traditions' also have to originate somewhere in antiquity - at which point they may also have been dismissed as being 'fads'? Which current 'fads' do you think have they staying power to evolve into cultural traditions?
I think the padlocks...much as I dislike them unless they are attracted to purpose-built structures... will probably last and become a valid 'tradition'. Why? Because of the ease of communication the internet offers, and its myth-creating properties. People already think that attaching padlocks to various structures is a 'tradition', thus it will be so. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
I've been researching a bit. There is an older padlock tradition (pre WW2) associated with a bridge in Serbia, and a couple of wish-padlock sites elsewhere in the world. But they have only appeared in Europe this century (i.e. since 2000). Seems they're beginning to appear in the UK too, at least in London (visitors?).
I don't think authorities remove them just because they are perceived as a fad. I think they remove them because of their aesthetic effect and, possibly, their effects upon structures.
I don't like them personally because I see them as a) aethestically displeasing in the same way as many see graffiti as aesthetically displeasing and b) potentially harmful to structures.
Given that I doubt the custom will cease, I'd be happy for special padlock 'trees' or whatever to be provided. Perhaps that's the best way forward?
Padlocks won't be a 'cultural' tradition though. Imo, that is something exclusive to a society/culture/location.
This is something done by loads of people from loads of cultures in loads of locations, but only very, very recently. So I really can't think of it as a 'tradition'. I can only see it as a ..well, a 'common custom of our time', perhaps?
Interesting point. Perhaps the 'rise of common customs of our time' is the way of the future in an increasingly globalised world where the 'local' and 'regional' are under increasing threat?
You should see the 'Love Locks" around the railings and made into "Christmas trees" at the base of Seoul Tower in Korea. I have never seen anything like it. In Google Images, type in "Seoul Tower Padlocks" - some great photos.
@borisborough, that sounds like a very pragmatic solution.
One current fad that may very well evolve into a cultural tradition in certain societies who may not even be aware of a certain St. Valentine is Valentine Day and all that is associated with it. Agreed that this 'festival' is age-old but only in the last few years has it become such a raging phenomenon, largely aided by Archies cards and the power of the Internet.
In recent years the placing of flowers, soft toys etc at the site of accidents, murders and other tragedies has become very common in Britain. I remember seeing shrines at the roadside in Italy .Perhaps this type of 'memorial' is becoming more and more.
That's very true, Shane. I understand the flowers bit, but confess to being somewhat bewildered by soft toys (when the victims were not children)?
The flowers/candles/cuddly toys thing seems to have started in the UK when Princess Diana died and has become increasingly commonplace since but I'd seen roadside shrines elsewhere before that time (and since). I think it's a much longer-standing custom in other European countries.
Same with photos/toys/cuddly toys etc on graves. Flowers only was the norm in the UK until very recently but photos especially have long been the norm in other countries.
As for Valentine's Day cards etc: that idea started in the UK in Victorian times (like lots of things). I think the internet has spread the idea across the world and if there's money to be made from it, people will encourage it.
Father's Day is not in any way a UK custom, nor are trick or treating/household decorations/pumpkins any part of UK Hallowe'en traditions. But both have been mega-promoted over the past couple of decades and have become the norm.
I think all these things will remain (at least, whilst there is the money to pay for them). But 'traditions'? No. Just common customs shared between cultures and created on the back of financial urges and the ability to easily communicate world-wide.
Maybe the use of the word 'traditions' wasn't the best choice then, and it should rather have been 'customs'?
If we look back beyond the period in history where literacy (and access to writing materials) was standard, much of what we know about cultures - particularly ancient ones - has to do with the way that they honoured and buried their dead. For instance, I know of no better way to gain an insight into the mind of the emergent Victorian middle class than to take a wander around Highgate or Kensal Green cemeteries.
If we take that example, then given increasing pressure on burial space and a growing number of people opting for cremation, have those traditions and customs changed (and, if so, how)?
Yes, burial practices have changed massively in the UK (I could ramble on about burial practices from an archie/historical pov, but I won't! :-) ).
Cremation itself has really only became widely acceptable (almost the norm, perhaps?) within the past 50 years or so. It was legally regulated from 1902, but even in the 1930s only 5% of the population was cremated. Now it's around 75%.
Victorian memorials are indeed superb but, of course, only represent a tiny minority of those who died. Most people had no marker at all, some just wooden ones...and sharing a grave was not at all uncommmon.
Modern 'gravestones', when used, seem to me to veer towards the 'polished and engraved' granite' style, with the engraving often particularly linked with the person. But they are hugely expensive.... And there are also rules about what can and can't be in cemeteries (varying from place to place), something which I suspect was not the case in earlier times.
Certainly the placing of toys, windmills, flags and so on on children's graves is a very recent thing indeed..perhaps the last decade or so?
oh well here we are with padlocks in Paris. Well the reason and not officially is that they cause a bad impression to the locals living there; its ugly and it deteriorate the railings on the bridges so the bridges and river water authorities takes them down.
It will be hard to eliminate all together because the quicker they take them down the more are put up; the fad is very strong, and worldwide tourists do it too. So unless they put video surveillance cameras and police present ,which I doubt they will have the money for that, the fad will be with us for a long time. For the record I dont like them either,they are an ugly sight.
The other more pleasant is still done in Madrid, where we take our sweetheart girlfriend to the pedal or oars boats at Retiro Park, parque del buen retiro. It goes for a century and still done unofficially. If you have a girl or boy you have to convince them to ride the boat there. I did it ::) as a very young men, and now took my kids for practice lol!!!
Well, it 75% of people are now being cremated, does that mean that gravestones will become more and more obselete? Or are people deciding to inter ashes in conventional plots? The memorial gardens that I've seen just seem to have very small plaques that don't give the same space for information or personal expression.
Personally I find the windmills and stuffed toys on children's graves to be a little ghoulish and it seems to imply that the family are still in a state of denial. Hoever, the trama of losing a child must be so appalling that I suppose that families just do whatever they can to try and come to terms with the tragedy.
would it be because cementary land is scarce and more expensive than cremation, my family is cremated ashes at sea, we are all going there. Plus mobility, who wants to go back to a grave that might be impossible to go back for many reasons including money?
1. Probably. When people are cremated they are commemorated (if at all) by small plaques, sometimes set into small stone markers. Many people have their ashes scattered in a garden of remembrance in a cemetery. The cost of funeral interment, whether grave or interring ashes, of plot (for grave) and of gravemarkers is incredibly high nowadays. You're looking at 2500GBP+ for the most basic of funerals + scattering of ashes.
Many people do choose to scatter ashes in places beloved of the deceased person. It's quite common to see memorial benches placed in special spots too (although that doesn't equate to the ashes being scattered there, of course).d
2. I don't think it would be possible to inter ashes in what might be termed 'ordinary' plots.
3. I don't think the rise in cremation links directly to availability of land for cemeteries, other than from a cost point of view. I think it's just a change in perceptions and desires, although cost may genuinely have something to do with it (I mean the deceased specifying cremation because he/she knows it will be less of a financial burden).
4. I find toys etc disconcerting as well. I can understand the emotions behind it (not from personal experience, thank god) but it can be taken to extremes.
I actually own our family plot in London (because I was a student and resident in the Borough of Camden at the time that my Gran died, and so was eligible for a 'residents' discount): sadly the only real estate I own in the UK and somewhere I'm not overly eager to take up residence in myself!
Fortunately I haven't had to go to a funeral in the UK for ages, but we did go to an uncle's internment when we were in Hamburg recently, and there they simple dug a hole into a conventional plot - same thing with my mother-in-law when her ashes were interred close to Bonn.
We also do that here if the ashes are to be interred, often in a specific area of the cemetery set aside for cremation interments. I thought you meant a grave plot, sorry.
No, you were right first time - they were conventional multilevel plots with some previous (conventional) burials.
I'll admit to finding the rites of death fascinating and always visit a cemetery or two on our travels. The customs various cultures observe regarding an inevitable part of life -and how those have sometimes evolved over time - is as much a part of the local flavor as food, annual observances, etc.
Cremation has become the choice of the majority here in the U.S. as well for a number of reasons. I won't necessarily attribute it to cost anymore as funeral homes have cleverly come up with enough extras to bill the same as a standard burial if one isn't careful. One of the larger benefits is the ability to 'hold' the remains for an indefinite amount of time. With families often scattered all over the country, getting everyone together for a service can be complicated/expensive so keeping the ashes until that can occur eliminates the need for dealing with the remains immediately.
It's becoming more common here to have combined services for parents/grandparents who pass away at different times. Ashes of the first to go will be stored - sometimes for years - until the the demise of the second and both observed/interred/scattered together.
I'm seeing more interest is 'green' burials as well: the remains buried in a biodegradable container, allowed to deteriorate naturally, and the gravesite reused after a time. Nothing new here: some of our indigenous peoples have employed that practice for a long time thus eliminating the need for expanding burial grounds.
Don't know then. I haven't been aware of grave spaces being used for cremation interments but, equally, I don't spend much time in graveyards or cemeteries (apart from historically-interesting ones, which I love). So it's quite possible it is more commonplace than think. Depends on the council which runs the cemetery (and the individual church, when it comes to graveyards), I suppose.
Green burials (often with trees as markers) are also becoming more popular here as well. That would be my ideal choice: cardboard casket and a tree (an oak, preferably) to mark the spot. Green burial spots are not yet particularly common though. I won't be around to care so I'm leaving it to others to make pragmatic decisions when they are required.
It's apparently legal and possible to be buried in your own back garden in England (maybe the whole of the UK, not sure), with the appropriate permissions. Not sure how good it would be for the resale value of the house though...
Gracious - I would have thought that 'backyard burials' would have had the health & safety people up in arms! Surely there's a public health risk (unless we're just talking about ashes)?
Leics, both of my cremated parents were interred in standard grave plots. They had purchased them years before their deaths - and had a marker pre-placed - so as to be next to my paternal grandparents. My father's brother and his wife purchased an adjoining plot/marker as well.
>Surely there's a public health risk
Not if overcrowding (and any groundwater issues) are controlled. People were actually buried naturally (wooden coffins/no embalming) like this for many, many years. Sanitation become a problem during times of plague, flu or other pandemics that caused the demise of a large amount of people in a short span, and interment of the remains in limited spaces: just too many decomposing away at the same time.
yes the funeral people can ask you to add all the extras they want but you have the right to said no lol!
at least in France, cremation is cheaper than cementary generally speaking without any additions.
However, we chose the cremation for the sea, we have at Honfleur, Normandy next to the brave ones, there is my mother and father and I are for sure going there too. The sea is us, and will take our ashes to all the lands we beloved.
Just to divert from the death scene for a mo - trick or treating has been done in Scotland for many years, going back into the dark ages in one form or another but it is known as 'guising', a derivative of 'disguising' I would think. We used to dress up and go round houses where we had to do a trick for a treat. In most houses there were Hallowe'en specific games (dooking of apples/trying to grab a treacle covered pancake dangling from a line, etc.) and we went in and had a go, to great hilarity and merriment. You had to do a trick (recite a piece of poetry/a dance/or whatever) in order to receive a treat. No trick, no treat.
As for the padlocks, I seem to think that I have read somewhere that this business of fastening locks is founded in 'antiquity'...... not at all sure, though. May have something to do with pilgrimages......
To clarify, when I said 'trick or treat' I meant the modern, almost-blackmailing version rather than the tradition of guising. The modern version is 'give me a treat or I will play an (often nasty) trick on you'. Guising was, as you say, 'I have performed a 'trick' and therefore may deserve a treat'.
Mischief Night (which is something other again) is nearer to the existing UK version of 'trick or treating', although there was no treat or threat involved: mischief just happened.
Padlocks and pilgrimage? Were you thinking of China?
That custom...the wishing padlock, if you like...seems to have been going longer than the love custom. But I don't think even that is especially ancient. Although padlocks of a type have been around since the Romans they have only much more recently become easily available and affordable (like most things).
a. yes, I know what you meant re trick or treating in the UK but I was merely saying that the term (and derivatives thereof) has been around for yonks!
b. no idea if I was thinking about China..... certainly, there are places that have padlocks upon padlocks upon padlocks...... no, I am sure it is something I have read..... doubtless, the little grey cells will click and whirr for a while and may perhaps come up with the answer!
Is it Halloween already? All this talk of Trick or Treat, death, cemeteries and graves has got me reaching for my scalpel. It's still summer you know, at least in the Northern hemisphere, not that you'd know it where I am. Surely there has to be some other fads to pass on to future generations.
By the way I've got a Headstone for sale if anybody's interested. Would suit someone who answers to the name of Wright.
@Fishy, just to tie up the health aspects of 'backyard burials', it's interesting to look at the research on groundwater contamination migrating away from cemeteries. The first 'front' of pollution to emanate from the decomposing bodies is primarily (because the body contains relatively large quantities of nitrogen relative to other elements). And the second (which has much more serious associated health risks) is mercury ... from amalgam fillings. Moral of the story: check Granny's dental work before you plant her at the bottom of the garden!
(Sorry for the slight digression, but I am a hydrogeologist by qualification, and there are precious few non work-related discussions where I get the opportunity to talk groundwater - thanks for the indulgence!)