NEAPOLITAN FUNERAL RITES
It may seem macabre, but attending a funeral today, I pondered on the fact that we have different burial customs than you.
At least here, where I’m living, after the death of a person, our custom is the following.
We go to the home of the deceased which is usually placed on the bed of his/her room with his/her relatives all around, and with each mirror covered with sheets. We greet any parent hugging and kissing, while someone even kiss the corpse too making the sign of the cross. Around, people chat each other just to kill the time. By law, the funeral may be made only 24 hours after death, certified by a doctor and reported to the local municipality. Therefore, it often happens that the corpse must remain at home for a long time, giving the opportunity to all relatives and friends to drop in and give a final farewell to the deceased and condolences to the family. During the day and even into the night there is only some cup of coffee offered to guests moving around in the house. It often happens that the closest relatives must spend the night with the deceased and wait for the morning, when burial service comes and puts the corpse in the coffin. Once the hearses were wagon drawn by 2, 4 or 6 horses, while luxury black cars nowadays, white as the coffin only in the case of a child.
The front door of the building still stay half-open as sign of mourning, while on the walls of the surrounding streets some funeral posters have been posted, with the name of the deceased and funeral time data, so that everyone can know it. The hearse carries the coffin to the church where the funeral mass is celebrated, attended by all relatives, friends and acquaintances. The hearse then, moving very slowly, goes around the neighborhood passing near the deceased’s house, with behind the funeral procession.
Often, local traffic police must stop traffic for the right time to the procession to pass, while the shops around lowered their shutters as a mark of respect.
After that, those present greet the relatives of the deceased and go away, while relatives then will follow the hearse going to the cemetery. Unless it has been requested the burial of the corpse in a sealed zinc coffin, in the cemetery the coffin is entombed in a special burial areas, where by law should remain around 2 years. After that, the body then is exhumed and if everything is fine (ie if the tissue is completely worn away), it will be placed in the tomb definitively. Although, our cemeteries are overcrowded, looking like miniature cities with tombs built like skyscrapers, are still a few people who resort to cremation.