The A to Z Challenge is on! Hello and welcome to my Main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a romance novelist. Join me and more than 2279 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet through the month of April. My daily posts will be mostly history with some science topics here and there. I’ve chosen subjects that tickle my fancy and hope you will find them interesting too.
Keep the topic rolling! If you have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post. I may not know the answer off the top of my head but I love research and would enjoy discussing my topics further. Comments can be made just below my bio in the tag section.
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Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter F ~
F for Funeral Mementos
Just as Hollywood celebrity inspires fans to go under the knife to look like their favorite stars, and TV shows such as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous encourage spending beyond one’s means, other periods in history had their own celebrities to emulate. I think it safe to say none had the social impact of Britain’s Queen Victoria . Practically everything the woman did became in vogue. Some of what we do today can be traced back to her. From child rearing to greeting cards to style to Christmas trees, she made an impact.
When typhoid fever claimed the life of Prince Albert that sad December in 1861, Queen Victoria was devastated. In dealing with her loss, she unintentionally set a mode for society. The Queen mourned her husband for 40 years and because of that, death became fashion. Aside from wearing black every day for the rest of her life, she made sure their home stayed exactly as it was on the day her husband died. This included his clothes set out for the day, his toilette prepared for his shave, his place at the table set, and other sad daily rituals for a husband who was no longer there.
Regarding Victorian death rituals, there were very strict rules to follow: mirrors were covered, buntings hung, certain colors worn at certain times over the length of the mourning period. But it wasn’t enough that morning ritual was prolonged and the lives of the living impacted beyond their grief, a booming death business sprang into being. More than one city and town had the latest embalming techniques advertised in mortician shop windows. Coffins and hearses and cemeteries all reflected the ostentatious Victorian flair.
One of the strangest things from the Victorian era occurred when the unusual focus on death partnered with that newfangled invention photography and gave us The Memento Mori (Latin for remember that you must die)
In my opinion, this was the pinnacle of the death rituals — having life-like photos taken of your deceased as a memento. Elaborate stands and contraptions would hold the body in life-like poses. Eyes were painted on closed eyelids. And often, living family members joined in the photo shoot. I’ve seen dozens of these images and the photos that show the deceased child sitting side by side with a living sibling are the most haunting to me. It’s the confusion in their eyes. Death is hard enough for children to comprehend.
How often do we stumble across old Victorian era photos in antique stores or even in our attics? I’ve seen beautiful sleeping children and had no idea that sleep was eternal. I’ve seen others posing for the camera with staring faces. I’ll look closely next time. I might see the stands that aided the pose and those staring eyes might just be painted on.
The following pictures look like average photographs from the Victorian era, but in fact, they are love tokens — funerary mementos made to capture the life that was. I show them here in tribute to the love behind them.
Tomorrow ~ letter G
**NEW TODAY** on my satellite blog!
The Authors in Bloom event highlights those things authors do outside the many worlds of fiction. We garden, we cook, we craft etc. One of the more unusual things my husband and I have done was lead wild foods programs for Chicago’s Field Museum. For this event I’ll be sharing my recipes. Do stop by. You may have delicious ingredients waiting in your backyard!
Here’s one for today:
Decutient (adjective 1656)
~shaking down; beating down
See what’s happening on the RB4U blog today
Our April contest is on. We’ll have 3 winners and a lot of prizes to split among them. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/
Love Waits in Unexpected Places –
Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories
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