World Cemetery Customs – Part 1

Estonian Cemetery - Manicure Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

A well manicured grave site in Rannamoisa Kirik Cemetery in Estonia.

We recently visited the Republic of Estonia (see pictures below for a map of Estonia) to see our son, Kristjan, get married. While there, we had an opportunity to visit several cemeteries and visit with our Estonian family concerning cemetery customs.

The first cemetery was the Rannamoisa Kirik (church) cemetery near Tiskre, Estonia. It was very similar to American rural church cemeteries with the exception that there was a ‘storefront’ operation that operated on a limited basis selling flowers, crosses, plants and candles.  A major difference was that families are responsible for the upkeep of the grave. There is no such thing as perpetual care. The level of care and appearance varied markedly due to variables such as family finances and a family’s proximity to the cemetery. For some families it is possible to only visit a grave once or twice a year, and one of those times may be the traditional Christmas Eve visit when no maintenance would be possible.

While visiting Rannamoisa Kirik, we observed a disparity of grave conditions and family plot conditions which are pictured. Some were manicured sand or planted with flowering plants and bushes. Others were overgrown with shrubs and weeds.

Likewise there was a difference between the ‘new’ and ‘old’ sections of the cemetery, not unlike the United States. The newer sections had a line of shrubs planted by the cemetery to designate rows. The older sections appeared more random although rows were somewhat distinguishable. Most individual graves or couples graves were ‘outlined’ with a definite border. It was easy to see that American style grave maintenance and mowing would be impossible.

The downside to no perpetual care is that if a grave is found to be in a state of disrepair, the cemetery may contact the last known owner by certified mail asking for them to put the grave in order. If not, the grave may be reclaimed by the cemetery, but our family knew of no instances where this happened.

 

Pictures from Rannamoisa Kirik Cemetery

Esonian Cemetery - Family Tending Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

A family has gathered to take care of the grave-site of a loved one. They are weeding, watering, and raking the area to keep it looking nice.

 

Esonian Cemetery - Family Tending Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

This family has come to weed, water and tend the grave of a loved one in Rannamoisa Kirik Cemetery near Tallinn, Estonia.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Manicure Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

This grave has newly planted flowers purchased at the small shop on the cemetery grounds.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Manicure Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

This view of Rannamoisa Kirik Cemetery shows some of the older section of the cemetery with concrete borders designating and separating family plots.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Manicure Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

This family plot has perennial plants along with annual flowers planted. There are candles, purchased from the cemetery shop, placed at the markers for the family to light when they visit the cemetery.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Overgrown Grave | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

Some graves have not been well tended and are overgrown with weeds.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Older Section | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

The older sections of the cemetery have a varied appearance and do not have the neat and orderly rows of evergreen shrubs running through them.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Newer Section | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

The newer section of the cemetery has rows separated by plantings of evergreen shrubs.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Shop | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

The work shed at the cemetery has items that can be purchased to plan or place at your loved ones grave. There are annual and perennial plants and candles for sale.

 

Estonian Cemetery - Old Crosses | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

The cemetery has preserved old crosses from graves that rusted and/or broken at the base.

 

Map of Estonia

Estonia Map | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois

Estonia is one of the Baltic States. Estonia is located south of Finland across the Baltic Sea/Gulf of Finland and shares a border with Russia to the East.

 

 

 

 

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