Today is a great day. I actually get to use the term “German Ash Holes” as my title secure in the knowledge that it is 100% accurate. I am serious.
A growing number of people in the Federal Republic of Germany are choosing to be buried in the woods. The phenomenon had a subdued and understated beginning nearly ten years ago. The Germans have always loved and taken pride in their woods and forests, their relationship with these stretches of trees. Burials in cemeteries and blooming gardens and trees has always been part of their culture and Northern European Christianity…
In practice, those who want their post-mortem abode in a forest choose a tree, at the feet of which their ashes are buried in biodegradable urns. It is forbidden to leave flowers or candles, much less headstones, tombstones, or other such markers. The tree itself is the burial marker; at most, a small plate may be hung on its trunk, according to the wishes of the deceased person or family members. Many burials take place without a sign to mark the spot, but the FriedWald company keeps a detailed map of all the places where an urn was buried….
We said that churches are taking a more conciliatory attitude toward this kind of ceremony than in the past. FriedWald does not keep a list of its “customers” according to religious beliefs, but the company believes that at least half the graves in the forest contain Christians, both Protestant and Catholic. And apparently this kind of burial is also gaining popularity among Buddhists. According to Pastor Strege, Christian funerals in the forest are gaining favour, for economic reasons as well: the prices for such services are reasonable, and FriedWald ensures that the “grave” remains undisturbed for 99 years, while traditional cemeteries ensure this for only a quarter of a century. The Council of Protestant Churches in Germany has created a committee to investigate the issue. Reinhard Mawick, a committee member, visited a site in the Reinhardswald forest, which is said to have been the setting for many of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. He said that the alternative offered by FriedWald is “much more consistent now with Christian culture, from which the initiative first arose, because a burial in the woods is no longer equivalent to an anonymous burial.”
Not my cup o’ tea. They mention growing acceptance among Christians, but this definitely has a neo-enviro-pagan vibe to it. What do you think?