13 Strange Burial Traditions from Around the World

Here in North America, we try and keep death as far away from everyday life as possible. We do our best to politely avoid the topic, and as a result, people fear this natural process.

In many other countries, burial traditions are commonly and openly practiced, leading to a more death-positive outlook from those involved. Although some may seem obtuse, most of these burial traditions have the dual purpose of honoring the deceased person’s life and providing an outlet for the family’s grief. Read on to find out more about some of the strangest burial traditions in the world.

1. Turning of the Bones

In Madagascar, the tradition known as the Turning of the Bones is practiced by the indigenous Malagasy people, and occurs once every seven years. Local families take the bones of their deceased ancestors from their tombs, and re-wrap them in beautiful new shrouds, then dance with the bones to live music.

The Malagasy people believe that the soul of the deceased person can only join the world of the ancestors when their body is completely decomposed, so they celebrate this occasion with this ritual, known as Famidhana. This ritual is losing popularity though as with the rise of Christianity in Madagascar, this secular ritual is rapidly falling out of practice.

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