An Examination of the Relationship Between Food and Death in Rituals, Culture, Religion and Society.
Since ancient eras human beings have incorporated food into the their observances of death in diverse and often macabre ways. Early burial feasts and offerings are depicted on Egyptian hieroglyphics and recently, what some anthropologists consider to be the first burial feast was discovered in a small cave in northern Israel dating back some 12,000 years.
Food, as it relates to death, has primarily been used in three different ways – consumed by the mourners to benefit either themselves or the deceased, to feed the dead, or in some instances the dying and finally, to nourish a natural element, e.g. the earth or animals. Religion, folklore, grief, regional practicalities and the need to create community are just a few of the reasons underlying the creation and continued practice of food related death rituals and observances.
At Nourishing Death we will explore these rituals, practices and traditions, feature modern endeavors that incorporate food and death in meaningful ways, profile individuals who are working in the death care industry that utilize food as an important tool in their work, share readers’ stories about how they have experienced more modern uses of food in funeral and mourning rituals, (to learn more, please see our Mourning and Food – Your Contributions page), and recreating recipes for everything from traditional funeral foods to historical recipes, including step by step instructions so you can create these dishes as well. Wherever food and death intersect, you can expect to find us.