Lot of cultures all over the world observe practices that involve leaving food or drink at the graves of loved ones. There are different specific traditions, but often people leave food and drinks that the deceased particularly enjoyed in life, or that held some special significance to them.
Even if the Christian churches have, for centuries, regulated the liturgy and ceremonies for the dying and the dead, people everywhere have created their own death traditions and have often retained them in addition to those of the official Church. Food and drink are often important elements of these rites. In Ireland, for example, the dying were thought to suffer from hunger and thirst at death, and thus a dying person’s request for food and drink always had to be granted. This food, served in anticipation of death, was termed lón báis (death sustenance), and it was thought to be necessary to enable the person to die and thus to enter upon the journey to the land of the dead. In lot of cultures this journey was said to be long and hazardous, and sustenance, was considered necessary. Food and drink were, therefore, served at various junctures during the wake and funeral, so that, as Greek tradition expresses it, “the dead may eat”. The food were often placed in the coffin, or put into or placed on the grave. In northern Europe, at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide (or Pentecost), the family dead were remembered also by gifts of food and drink.
Lunching in cemeteries was not always out of question like today. The Victorians loved a good shady spot under a tree, to enjoy the more park-like cemeteries that developed in America around the mid-1800s.
Outside the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, there’s a headstone for a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker, one of the earliest primates to go to space and return alive. Still today, people still place bananas on her grave to honor her space-race sacrifices.
It seems also, that a mysterious person (or persons) has left an unfinished bottle of cognac each year at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore!
Personally, I think I’d like my loved ones to leave food at my grave. Any kind of food. I’m originally from several countries, and I’m not fussy about food. I would like some fries, maybe a pizza, soups, but also, of course, hot chocolate. Try to imagine the symbolism of bringing hot chocolate to a cold graveyard! And then, just because i’m dead doesn’t mean I have to go hungry! And you? What food or drink would you want people to leave at your grave? 😌