One does not associate a graveyard with happy emotions. Family members of the departed pay their condolences and pray for the soul to rest in peace.
However, one tradition that people follow is to leave flowers on the graves of their loved ones. This gesture does offer some hope in the otherwise somber place. But why do people place flowers over graves? Where did the custom start from?
The tradition of flowers being placed on graves is over 2,000 years old. This custom can be traced to the ancient Greeks. They performed rites over graves that were called ‘zoai’. Flowers were placed on the graves of Greek warriors. It was believed that if the flowers took root and blossomed on the graves, the souls of the warriors were sending a message that they had found happiness in the next world.
The ancient Romans believed that spirits continued to dwell around their grave sites. And so to pacify these spirits the Romans placed flowers and ornaments around grave sites. It is also a possibility that these flowers were used to kill the stench of death.
Many historians have a strong belief that this custom originated in America after the Civil War ended. Many Americans chose flowers to express their profound grief over Lincoln's death. Thus, the tradition of placing flowers at a funeral was born. People also started placing flowers over the graves of fallen soldiers. May 30 was originally called Decoration Day when General John Alexander Logan, a Union general issued an order to strew flowers on the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.
These days flowers are placed not only on graves but also in funeral homes and churches for burial services. Flowers are taken to be a token of esteem and admiration someone feels for the deceased.