Sunday, March 21, 2010


One day, when I was a child, maybe nine or so, my mother was in a good mood and told us a story, which sounded so unbelievable that my sister made her swear that it was true!
There was this custom in the small farming village in North Germany where my mother grew up, that older people cared about how they would be buried after passing away. Whoever could afford it, ordered in his life time a wooden casket from the local carpenter, which was simple but done very well and closed hermetically. They would store it in the barn, till it was needed.
The villagers raised cows there for the milk and meat and cultivated wheat and cornfields. They had chicken, pigs and rabbits. Dogs and cats roamed the farms. Their pride was small fruit orchards with apple, pear, apricot, plum and cherry trees. I was taken to visit two times there when I was a child, and I can still see the picture in my mind. It was a beautiful place!

After harvesting the fruit, it would be preserved for winter in different ways. One way was to slice the apples and pears and to dry them. Those people were very practical and they discovered that the wooden caskets were the perfect place to store the dried fruit. And so they did.

There was this old couple, they had two caskets in the barn, one for him and one for her. They used one casket for storing their dried fruit and then the husband died and was put in the empty casket. There was this other custom once in Germany, and this I still remember, because it was the same in South Germany where I grew up and I saw it done with both my paternal grandparents, who also were farmers. The body would be put in the casket and they would set it up in the barn (or in the house) for three days. It would be left open during day time and people could come and say their good byes. After three days the funeral would take place.

So it was done with this old farmer. People visited him in his casket in the barn, after three days the casket was closed and taken away to the cemetery. This was  usually done on a cart or carried by men, with the family and half the village people following it by foot.
Oh, what can I tell you! I think you all can guess what happened. After some time the widow went into the barn to open the other casket and take some dried fruit out of it - and she found her dead husband lying in there. Yes, they had buried the fruit!


Dawn of LaTouchables said...

This (I am giggling as I type) has to be true!!! Say it is! The best story of the year!!! :-D

Yael said...

My mother DID swear that it was true!

veroque said...

LOL:-D..... This is absolutely the funny story I have heard!

Eva said...

The best jokes are on funerals!
Ich bin zwar eine Norddeutsche, aber dieser Brauch war mir völlig unbekannt. Vielleicht, weil wir ja Balten waren.