A Short History of Cremations
When you’re considering cremations in Youngtown, AZ, it’s interesting to examine the history of cremations and explore how they became a popular funeral disposition choice – American funerals are now almost half cremations and half burials – in the world and in our country.
Cremations were a common practice in ancient Asia. As trading routes opened up and exploration began, so did battles and wars. Many early cremation practices were practical, especially on the battlefield when it was impossible to bring the fallen warriors back to their countries for burial.
We know that cremation was adopted in some parts of Greek in ancient times, but the practice had virtually disappeared by 403 B.C. During the Iron and Viking Ages in Sweden, cremation was the disposition method for most funerals. The Roman Empire also favored cremations for military funerals through the end of the first century A.D.
However, once Christianity was adopted as the religion of the Roman Empire and it spread throughout the western world, cremations became associated with pagan rituals. Gradually, they fell out of favor throughout the west as a funeral disposition choice, except when pandemic diseases occurred or during wars.
Freemasons, revolutionaries, and anarchists, who resented how much power was held by the Catholic Church in France, started advocating cremations as a way to take some of the Church’s power away. And, of course, the Catholic Church condemned cremations (a condemnation that lasted well into the last century) in response.
Cremations in Asia were the primary funeral disposition method during the dynasties that had a strong Buddhist influence, but traditional burials regained popularity in some parts of the continent as Confucianism began to be practiced.
Modern cremation began in the late 19th century with Dr. Ludovico Brunetti’s invention of a practical cremation chamber at the Vienna Medical Exposition of 1873. Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Dr. Henry Thompson became a major endorser of the invention, which helped spread its acceptance around Europe.
One of the major selling points of cremation in the 1800’s was that it eliminated the spread of diseases and infections like bubonic plague, which could wipe out large pockets of people because they spread so quickly. Crematories began to open around European during the next several years, and by 1876, the first crematory in America had opened in Philadelphia.
With time cremation has gained acceptance and popularity throughout the world. There are some nations that have a very small percentage of cremations (the countries of Ireland, South Africa, Ghana, and Italy have cremation rates of less than 10%, for example) while there are other nations where cremations are the overwhelmingly dominant choice for funeral disposition (75% or more of the citizens of Switzerland, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and Singapore choose cremation, for example).
In America, where cremation rates have risen dramatically since the 1970’s, the western states (with Nevada leading at 74%) strongly favor cremations over traditional burials while the southern states (with Mississippi coming in lowest at 16.9%) are just about equally split between cremations and traditional burials.
As religions have become more tolerant of cremations, we’re more mobile and global, we’ve become more aware of how fragile our environment is, and cemetery space is becoming more limited in some areas of the country, Americans have becoming more comfortable with choosing cremation as their funeral disposition method.
For more information about cremations in Youngtown, AZ our compassionate and experienced team at Simply Cremation & Funeral Arrangements can help. You can come to our funeral home at 16952 W. Bell Rd., #303, Surprise, AZ, 85374, or you can contact us today at (623) 975-9393.