UNESCO Cultural Heritage – Austrian undertaker honored for “a beautiful corpse”.


Gravediggers pay the last respects to the deceased. This has a long tradition. Now her knowledge and her practice have been chosen as Austria’s intangible cultural heritage.

“The funeral of a loved one should not amount to a removal activity, but a dignified farewell,” said Markus Pinter of the Federal Association of Undertakers. It is a tradition that has grown over many generations and is now even recognized by the UNESCO Commission. A specialized advisory board has decided that the element “knowledge and practice of undertakers” should be included in Austria’s intangible cultural heritage. The certificate was solemnly awarded on Thursday at the central cemetery.

“As a funeral director you don’t often have the chance to smile, but today I have every reason to do so together with the more than 500 funeral directors in Austria,” says Pinter. And further: “Various rituals developed in the region, which are followed in their base to this day. Especially in Vienna, which has always been a melting pot of cultures,” says Pinter.

There are no taboos on funerals
The types of burials have changed over time. Funeral directors respond to developments and advise on current trends. For example, today there is the electronic memorial portal or natural burials. Godparents are also sent on WhatsApp. Tasteless? “No”, says Dompfarrer Toni Faber, who was also there, “the wishes of the deceased or next of kin are very diverse, just yesterday I gave a sermon at a soul mass where pop music was played. There is nothing wrong with that, every person is individually and should therefore have a corresponding prom,” says Faber.

The Viennese tradition of a “beautiful corpse” also plays an important role. After the funeral, people gather and exchange stories about the deceased. So that death does not only bring mourning.

Source: Krone


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