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1735 Rt. 35
MIDDLETOWN, NJ
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A Short History of Cremation

Cremation has been around for a very long time, in fact, since prehistoric times. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that cremation was practiced in China as early as 8000 B.C. Other interesting facts include:

  • Cremation was commonly adopted in some parts of Greece but never became widespread, disappearing by 480 B.C.
  • In Sweden, the majority of funerals were cremations throughout the Iron Age and Viking Age, but stopped once Christianity was introduced (A.D. 1050).
  • In the western Roman empire, cremation was the standard until the first century A.D., often associated with military honors.
  • With the spread of Christianity, cremation was frowned upon and disappeared for the most part in Europe by the fifth century A.D., except in unusual cases such as epidemics or war, where the death toll required expedient disposal of human remains.
  • During the French Revolution, certain groups promoted cremation as a way of reducing the church's role in the funeral process. Partly because of this association, the Roman Catholic Church opposed the use of cremation until the 20th century.
  • In Asia, cremation became popular in areas of Buddhist influence under certain dynasties in China and Korea until about A.D. 1300.
  • Modern cremation began in the late 1800s with the invention of a practical cremation chamber by Professor Brunetti, who presented it at the 1873 Vienna Exposition.
  • Championed by Queen Victoria's surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, and driven by public concern for hygiene and health and clerical desires to reform burial practices, crematories slowly began opening in Europe and abroad.
  • The first modern crematory in America was established in Pennsylvania in 1876.

Today, cremation is practiced in at least 31 countries around the world, with rates ranging from less than 2 percent in Ghana to more than three-quarters of the deaths in Switzerland. Cremation rates in Canada approach 80% in some areas.

We know these arcane facts are interesting. But, they really won’t help you to know if cremation is right for you and your family. Only a conversation with a Evergreen Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation Services professional will help you to know that fact. So, call us at (732) 671-3001. We’re here to give you all the information required to successfully make your cremation decision.

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(732) 671-3001 1735 Rt. 35 | MIDDLETOWN, NJ 07748