Lunching in cemeteries was not always the cringe-inducing activity it is today. The Victorians loved a good shady spot under a tree to enjoy the more park-like cemeteries that developed in America around the mid-1800s — they were intended to be recreational areas for people to visit the dead and enjoy some leisure activities.
Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY is a great example. Look how soul-crushingly lovely it is (probably not as much at this time of year).
Of course, other cultures had, and still have, similar traditions of eating with the dead as a way of maintaining communication post mortem. Here’s a great shot of some women and children eating amongst the gravestones in Russia in 1919.
Of course there is no reason, other than your own cultural biases, why cemetery lunching cannot still be a popular activity. So many of our cemetery properties are well maintained parks, but just sit there as empty monuments to the dead. The idea of it being “respectful” to have cemeteries empty and silent is a very modern one indeed.
Mara (Order editor and writer and corpse from Monday’s home funeral shoot) and I enjoyed this picnic in Inglewood Cemetery in Los Angeles last year. Frankly, the Order should make more of an effort to eat at cemeteries, if only to set a precedent of acceptance of the practice. Also, you know, to eat. EAT.