In the christian tradition and in the popular belief there are many rituals and needs in connection with the death. Particularly in rural areas, the people hired a so-called announcer of the dead or corpse, who announced the death to the people, but also to the cattle or the plants, and invited them to be laid out and buried. They were preferably poor widows or old men, who went from door to door for a small payment or food.
Gelaut should drive away damons
The death sound should drive away also bad damons. Although it was not specified by the church, traditionally the deceased was buried both for hygienic reasons and out of respect for the death of the "dead woman" let.
According to the local historian elise gleichmann from kulmbach, the term "heimimburgen" refers to the preparation of the body, i.E. Washing, shaving and cutting hair and fingernails.
The dead woman got as a reward some money or food, sometimes she also had a claim to the clothes of the deceased. Washing was considered a symbol of baptism and rebirth, so that the dead could pass into the beyond in all purity.
After the washing, all objects that had been used were thrown away or buried. In some places the washing water is poured into a hedge (symbolically: life arises from death) or onto a tree. In no case on one’s own property, otherwise, it was feared, the family would die out.
"Remember that you are dying"
In many cases, the water was added to the coffin in a small pot. It was considered to have supernatural powers, it should not be able to do any harm. The shroud of the dead was often acquired while the deceased was still alive. "Memento mori, the thought of dying was part of life. The latin "memento mori" can be translated as "remember that you are dying" ubetzen.
Only in later times did people begin to use, for example, the sunday suit or the festive dress to dress the deceased. In parts of the frankenwald, however, the wedding garment was not to be taken under any circumstances, otherwise the widowed part, it was believed, would never again find joy in life.
Unadorned and modest
In the past, the dead person was buried in an unadorned and modest way. Except for a rosary around the hand or a cross, nothing ornamental was to be added. In order not to restrict the way to god, shoes were not worn – and the hair was to lie open around the head.
Since the marriage covenant made before god was terminated by death, the wedding ring was taken off and given to the remaining partner.
"Let me have the food penny"
Favourite objects were given into the coffin, even small coins. "Here you have the penny, leave me the penny" – with that the dead one was settled and was not allowed to raise any more claims. In order to protect the face of the deceased from rapid decomposition, it was smeared with brandy, and in order to trim the head and protect the mouth, a hymnal was placed under the chin of the dead person.
The use of a coffin was not known until the 18th century. The construction of the memorial was rather rare in the nineteenth century, it was expensive. So death boards were kept ready in the communities, some of them decorated with carvings and reusable. In many villages, families had their own boards which were passed on and on which the deceased could be laid out at home.
Wake was not allowed to sleep
To prevent damons from gaining power over the dead, it was customary to provide a death watch. Those who fell asleep ran the risk of "dying after".
A lot of incense was used, mainly to cover the smell at the death place, and prayers were said. From time to time, however, things got quite lively and schnapps and beer were drunk so that not everyone noticed that fear was present. Elise gleichmann wrote the following about the wake: "it’s a bit of a mean thing, that the conductors are nice ve the tuutn ferchtn is desto; mer mub n tuutn dreimoll be seina gruubn zeha ohpackn. Whoever has done this, will never be able to enjoy his life again."