The Dutch have drawn inspiration in the past few years from funeral customs in Mexico and Spain. The project "Allerzielen alom" or "All Saints everywhere" is an effort to honour and remember dead relatives in a creative, communal way. There are events at five cemeteries this year where you can hear acapella choirs, see movies and pictures projected onto ice tablets hanging from trees, and of course there are lots of fires, not near the ice tablets presumably. Johan Huizingha from Radio Netherlands Worldwide went along to one such event this week and spoke to the project’s leader Ida van der Lee.
There is a funeral directors and coffin makers in Amsterdam who also approaches the subject of dealing with death in a modern way. Walter Carpay runs an undertakers in the dockland area of Amsterdam and looks for different ways to express grief in an artistic way. He also attempts to bring back some of the intimacy people used to benefit from before everybody stopped believing in god.
The Europe of the 19th century didn’t have the same need to search for ways of grieving. Death wasn’t hidden or taboo in the way it sometimes is now. Nowhere was this perhaps more true than in Vienna, home to one of Europe's largest cemeteries. Viennese funerals are often grand affairs, with high fashion and live music. In fact the tradition is so rich that the Austrian capital has created a funeral museum.
In the region of Maramures, people are very relaxed about death. When they die, they’re buried in what’s called a "Merry Cemetery", where wooden crosses are painted blue and the epitaphs written on them are often amusing. For the villagers of Sapanta a life can be summed up in a few humorous rhymed verses. Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan made the journey to find out more for Network Europe.
Paris has some of the world's most interesting cemeteries with the great and good in every other tomb: John paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in the Montparnasse cemetery; Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison in Pere Lachaise; Francois Truffaut in Montmatre - the list goes on and these villages of the dead are tourist attractions in themselves. Illustriously filled cemeteries are one thing, but in the north of Paris you find the oldest animal cemetery in the world. Dogs, cats, and even birds and horses are buried at the Cimetiere des Chiens de Asnieres. And it's not just little old ladies who lay their white poodles to rest there. RFI's Sarah Elzas reports
From the many ways of dignifying death around Europe we now turn to one of the least dignified ways to die – state execution, or the death penalty. This week the European Union was abuzz with fresh plans to persuade the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty in its member states around the world. Many key states still use it, including the US, Japan, and China. But, it’s banned across the whole of the EU. Portugal holds the EU’s rotating presidency at the moment and it’s been spearheading the drive to get the UN resolution passed, as you’d imagine with no small degree of opposition. Vanessa Mock is Brussels correspondent for Radio Netherlands Worldwide and explains in this week’s Brussels Briefing that as a first step the Portuguese are calling for a suspension to executions in all UN member states.
On the 26th of December 2004, 230 000 lives were swept away. And 543 Swedes never came home. How did family, friends and Sweden as a whole meet the grieving and cope with their loss? Gaby Katz reports on how one crisis organisation aired feelings, experiences and individual stories, almost three years after the devastating Asian tsunami.
If you listen to this week’s programme, at the end you will hear 3 of the most popular pieces of music played at funerals in Europe. What are the titles of the three pieces? Answers to email@example.com and the winners will be announced at the end of November.
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