A Piper's Funeral

Today I went to a funeral for someone in my bagpipe band. A couple of the guys from my band played their pipes. This is on my mind today, and when I was sitting at the funeral I was thinking about what kinds of funeral traditions the Scots have. Here's what I found.

From what I read, funerals in Scotland today are similar to funerals in America today. But I did find some interesting 19th century traditions.

At the moment of death the windows were flung open to help the soul out of the house. They were kept open for an instant and then closed so the soul couldn't come back in.

The mirrors were covered so the soul wouldn't be confused and would leave the house.

On the day of the funeral a 7 course meal was hosted by the family of the deceased. The men would feast in the barn and the women in the house. After the feast a ceremony was held to remember the deceased.

Everyone would file past the coffin, touching the deceased's brow to prevent being haunted by the deceased's spirit. The coffin was closed and 8 women would lift it up. The chairs the coffin was resting on would be turned over in case a ghost was sitting in one of them. The coffin left the house feet first so the spirit couldn't find its way home.

From the house, the rest of the funeral procession was on foot and the coffin was carried by men. Apparently sometimes the procession could get a little wild (due the feasting and drinking the night before), sometimes the coffin got lost and other times different processions would get into fights with each other.

On the way to the burial site 'cairns' had been built, these were basically piles of rocks that the funeral could be rested on.

Only men attended the actual burial. (Remember these are 19th century customs!)

Some interesting traditions, it sounds like in general, funerals in 19th century Scotland were filled with a lot of different emotions.

Pipe on!

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