Unfortunately death is one universal and inevitable part of everyone's life (apologies if that sounds a little morbid). The one thing we all have in common. Throughout history, there have been strange and extraordinary rituals and traditions to dedicate the dead. Many cultures believe the body and the spirit are two separate things. When a person dies, a spirit lives on and goes elsewhere. This is the one consistency with various traditions and customs.
Even during pre-historic times, rituals were implemented for the dead. Remains going as far back as 65,000 years show evidence of procedures put in place for the dead. Things like flowers on the deceased or specific clothing. This suggests a belief in spirit or life after dead.
Pagan rituals were very different in to traditional funerals today. When a member of their 'clan' dies, their death was celebrated as they gained entry into Valhalla - Pagan's form of an afterlife and heaven were they dine with the Gods in the great Hall.
It is impossible to talk about honouring the dead without mentioning the Egyptians. Their rituals were highly advance in terms of cleanliness, and technology. The Pharaohs had the best honours with outstanding tombs and burial sites. Mummification helped a spirit reach the afterlife; this was an expensive process which was usually available for the more wealthy Egyptians.
The modern idea of a funeral, with a black dress code and sorrowful music, came from the English Victorian era. Starting from widows who displayed that they are in 'mourning' by dressing in dark colours over a period of time. This was usually around 4 years. Any shorter mourning time would seem dis-respectful to the deceased.
This tradition evolved into what we have today. The mourning ideal, wearing all black and being respectful, dignified. This has been the norm for the last 100 years in the UK and much of the western civilisation. However, in modern era, there has been a dramatic change of what a person wants when they die.
Now many people are deciding to be more distinctive and more unique in their choices. Doing something more fun and light-hearted - Very different in comparison to many traditions around the world. What do you think? How would you like your funeral to be?