At Easter cemetery visits often take place for the first time of the year by people going to their loved ones graves. As a Spring holiday, it can be the perfect opportunity to visit the cemetery or churchyard to tend to the graves which have been neglected during the cold damp winter months.
The weather at Easter is getting warmer and the days are longer and brighter. This is reflected in the types of flowers that are traditionally placed on graves at Easter. Bright lilies and daisies are a common theme in Easter floral arrangements. They signify love, hope and purity with Christ’s resurrection being reflected by the single flower stem of the lily.
The milder and brighter weather also gives the opportunity to tidy the area around the graves, removing any weeds and dead flowers, and clean out the memorial pots. People may also consider arranging to have the headstone professionally cleaned or have other restoration work carried out.
Around the world, there are some different traditions when it comes to visiting the cemeteries at Easter. In Russia, where the winters are particularly cold, families regularly use the occasion as the opportunity to visit cemeteries. However the Orthodox Church strongly discourages this, reminding people that Easter is the faith’s most important religious festival and should be spent in worship, not visiting graves.
In Connecticut in the north eastern United States, sunrise services have been taking place at Abington Cemetery on Easter morning for as long as anybody can remember. Despite the often freezing temperatures, scores of people turn out to hear through loudspeakers a sermon given by the minister from the local 18th century congregational church. Prayers are said and hymns sung, then many of the worshippers go to the church to warm up with coffee and donuts.
The Chinese festival of Qingming sometimes coincides with Easter. Sometimes known as Tombsweeping, this is an occasion when Chinese communities around the world visit cemeteries and tidy up the graves, then offer food and drink to their loved ones.
Once Easter is over, summer is on the horizon. That is when cemeteries become much brighter as leaves grown on trees and plants flower. They are open longer, giving families more time to visit their loved ones graves in far more pleasant surroundings that go some way to helping the life be celebrated, rather just the loss be mourned.