Why Georgians 'dine with the dead' -
In many Western countries graveyards are seen as sinister or even frightening but not so in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
As with other eastern Orthodox countries, it is common for Georgians to honour their deceased relatives by taking food and wine to cemeteries, and having feasts beside the graves.
Although practised thoughout the year, Orthodox Easter is one of the busiest times for the tradition.
Damien McGuinness joined families in the Georgian capital Tbilisi to find out more about dining with the dead.
The Close-up series focuses on aspects of life in countries and cities around the world. What may seem ordinary and familiar to the people who live there can be surprising to those who don’t.
Coffins no longer a must in Ireland -
It will no longer be illegal to bury bodies without coffins in the Republic of Ireland from next month.
Under existing regulations, a body can not be buried unless it is enclosed in a sufficiently strong material such as wood.
The change was made to facilitate Muslims, who are normally buried without a coffin.
However, after 1 June, anyone may elect to have a loved one buried without a coffin.
The Department of the Environment said individual cemeteries could opt out of the arrangement.
The new rule can be suspended if there is a health or environmental issue, such as a cemetery near a water source.
(Source: BBC News)
Music to murder to: crime writers on their killer soundtracks -
Martyn Waites: You’re more likely to see other crime writers at gigs than literary events, so what role does music have in the creation of crime fiction?
In Boston, A Rare Rejection Of The Dead : NPR -
Usually, even the most heinous killers are buried without incident. That’s not true for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, whose body has become the subject of angry protests.
After Outcry, Disney Withdraws Effort To Trademark 'Dia De Los Muertos' -
The Walt Disney Company told Fronteras Desk it will withdraw trademark applications related to the Day of the Dead holiday. Disney made the decision late Tuesday after an avalanche of social media backlash.
Druid wants fake bones at Stonehenge -
A druid leader is calling for fake, rather than real, human remains to be put on display at Stonehenge.
In an open letter, King Arthur Pendragon has criticised English Heritage for the “macabre manner” it plans to display “ancestral remains”.
In 2011 he lost a High Court bid to have bones, found in 2008, reburied.
English Heritage said the remains are not from the 2008 excavation and their “presentation, treatment and storage” will follow strict UK guidelines.
The cremated remains of more than 40 bodies, thought to be at least 5,000 years old, were removed from a burial site at the ancient stone circle five years ago.
According to Mr Pendragon, the bones were the remains of members of the “royal line” or “priest caste” who could have been the “founding fathers of this great nation”.
“There are cremated remains and a full skeleton from one of the barrows, which they’re planning to put on display,” he said.
“This is not only out of step with the feelings of many of the peoples and groups that I represent but is surely against the driving cultural principles of a Unesco World Heritage Site.”
(Source: BBC News)
WORK LIFE: CARLA VALENTINE, MEDICAL MUSEUM CURATOR
A one-day diary from morning latte to lights out
Carla Valentine, 31, is technical assistant curator at Barts Pathology Museum in West Smithfield, London. She lives with friends in Shoreditch, east London
“People are taken aback when I tell them what I do. Spending your days surrounded by body parts may seem unusual, but I love my job. The Barts Pathology Museum houses more than 5,000 specimens, from kidneys to whole human heads, which were once used to teach medical students. Since the Seventies, when teaching methods changed, the building has been in a state of disrepair. It’s my job to conserve all the specimens (some of them are hundreds of years old so age has taken its toll) so students can use them and the museum can open to the public.
My alarm goes off at 6am, then I’ll shower and get dressed. I work with preservation fluids, so my clothing needs to be hardy: vintage combat pants or dungarees and big work boots with steel toe-caps (in case I drop the specimen jars on my feet). I’ll have a cup of tea and walk to the museum in Clerkenwell. The museum is like an old Victorian cabinet of curiosities. As well as eyes, hands, feet and lungs, we also have specimens of conjoined twins and other medical oddities. I’ve even got skulls in my office. It’s like something from The Addams Family.
Utøya massacre survivors: ‘I bear my scars with dignity’ - in pictures
Photographer Andrea Gjestvang’s poignant portraits of survivors of the Utøya massacre in Norway in July 2011 have won her the top prize at the Sony World Photography awards
One Day in History is on show as part of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition at Somerset House until 12 May (somersethouse.org.uk) [The original text said that the Utøya massacre took place in November, rather than July 2011 and has been corrected]
(Source: The Guardian)
How do I become… an embalmer?
Some modest GCSEs – and the right attitude – can get you on a two-year course, then the job might take you anywhere
As an eight-year-old, Kevin Sinclair would fetch the Hoover from the chapel beneath the family flat, see dead bodies in coffins and carry on. “They were just sleeping,” he says casually. “That’s what my parents would tell me.” What the average person would have considered macabre, he saw as normal and merely a matter of getting used to.
And after getting used to it, he followed his father into the funeral business and became an embalmer, a job he has been doing for 22 years. He co-founded the Feltham-based London School of Embalmingin 2006, where he embalms and teaches.
A typical day starts with a delivery, but not your standard postal influx. Around eight to 10 bodies released from hospitals, nursing homes or private residences arrive ready for the embalming to begin. During the week, he teaches as he embalms. Under supervision, students have the opportunity to learn the craft with the deceased.
(Source: The Guardian)
Europe’s Hypocritical History of Cannibalism
From prehistory to the present with many episodes in between, the region has a surprisingly meaty history of humans eating humans
In 2001, a lonely computer technician living in the countryside in Northern Germany advertised online for a well-built man willing to participate in a mutually satisfying sexual act. Armin Meiwes’ notice was similar to many others on the Internet except for a rather important detail: The requested man must be willing to be killed and eaten.
Meiwes didn’t have to look far. Two hundred and thirty miles away in Berlin, an engineer called Bernd Brandes agreed to travel to Meiwes’ farmhouse. There, a gory video later found by police documented Brandes’ consensual participation in the deadly dinner. The cannibalism was both a shock to the German public and a conundrum to German prosecutors wanting to charge Meiwes with a crime.
Cannibalism might be humanity’s most sacred taboo, but consent of a victim typically eliminates a crime, explains Emilia Musumeci, a criminologist at the University of Catania, in Italy, who studies cannibalism and serial killers.
More technically, cannibalism is not designated as illegal in Germany’s extensive criminal code: Until that point, laws against murder had sufficed to cover cannibalism. If Brandes had volunteered his own life, how could Meiwes be accused of murder?
Burial grounds are resource for living, charity Caring for God’s Acre says
Burial grounds should be seen as a “resource and not a burden” for the living, a charity says.
Four sites will be chosen in Wales by Caring for God’s Acre to be used as examples of how their conservation can help society.
(Source: BBC News)
Escaping the train to Auschwitz
On 19 April 1943, a train carrying 1,631 Jews set off from a Nazi detention camp in Belgium for the gas chambers of Auschwitz. But resistance fighters stopped the train. One boy who jumped to freedom that night retains vivid memories, 70 years later.
In February 1943, 11-year-old Simon Gronowski was sitting down for breakfast with his mother and sister in their Brussels hiding place when two Gestapo agents burst in.
They were taken to the Nazis’ notorious headquarters on the prestigious Avenue Louise, used as a prison for Jews and torture chamber for members of the resistance.
Today, Gronowski lives a two-minute walk from this building, where he was held for two nights without food or water.
“My parents had made a mistake - only one, but a serious one, which was… to have been born Jewish - a crime that, at the time, could only be punished by death,” he says.
(Source: BBC News)
Waterville ‘make-your-own-coffin’ class dead on arrival
‘Americans are really good at ignoring the fact that they’re going to die,’ says event organizer Chuck Lakin when no one shows up for seminar
WATERVILLE — Americans are afraid of death.
That’s probably why nobody signed up for Saturday’s scheduled make-your-own-coffin workshop at Barrels, in downtown Waterville.
Natural-burial and home-funeral advocate Chuck Lakin, a woodworker from Waterville who had organized the 9 a.m. workshop, said he was disappointed that his planned event did not materialize, but he added that he understands.
“Americans are really good at ignoring the fact that they’re going to die,” Lakin said from his home workshop on Barnet Street. “They don’t want to talk about it because most people have never been in a room with a dead person that wasn’t embalmed and sitting in a funeral home.
“One hundred years ago, death was a part of life. The bodies were usually taken care of at home, so you saw death. It was a personal thing.”
(Source: Morning Sentinel)