Growing up, no matter what the special occasion, I always remembered amazing food being served. Birthdays had delicious homemade cakes, and holidays had succulent and tasty dinners. And then there’s funerals. I may not remember the songs that were played or even where the services were held, but I do recall the food that guests brought to the family house before the service and the reception following it. If you’re like most, you know that casseroles, macaroni and cheese, Jell-O molds and lasagna was –and still are– pretty popular.
The tradition of feasting and funerals date as far back as the concept of funerals themselves. (The Lord’s Supper is a good example of this though it was held before Christ’s death). Over time, food became a mainstay at funerals, with guests bringing a multitude of dishes as offerings to the person who died. This tradition still holds true today.
Italian families generally bring large portions of food to deceased family’s home as soon as the word gets out that somebody died. Jewish households follow the tradition of Seudat Havra-ah, also known as a meal of condolence or recovery, and is the first meal eaten by mourners following a loved one’s funeral.
Funeral food is comforting, to make and to eat. Mourners tend to skip meals because they are too grief-stricken and busy to spend the time preparing something. Some bereaved family members and friends also prefer to drown their sorrows in preparing meals for the immediate family. Since many people don’t know what to say or do when a person dies, taking a meal often fills this void.
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