What We Call Today “living room”, Was Actually Called “Death Room” in the victorian era…
We all know that the living room is one of the central parts of every modern home, often used for television, relax or other family activities. If today it happens often in modern houses that the kitchen and the living room are annexed, during the 800 (and up to the ’70s of’ 900) there was the custom to keep the kitchen separate from the living room, even for a really strange reason, which not everyone knows.
The living room, in English also “parlor” (from the French parloir, to speak), played an important part during the funeral rituals of the 19th century. This was the place where the deceased’s family members were arranged for the last visits before the oblivion of the tomb, and it was called the death room.
The custom of exposing the corpse at home was common in the United States and in Great Britain, but also in the rest of Europe was widespread. Over time and with the evolution of public facilities, the funeral rooms became much more common and equipped. The deceased, already at the beginning of the 1900s, were hardly exposed in the living room of the house, and instead were recomposed in the mortuary rooms, as naturally happens today.
Before the end of the nineteenth century the space of the house was then renamed as “Living Room”, a real oxymoron compared to the previous definition, all Victorian, of “Death Room”, where post-mortem photographs were often made.
With the improvement of the conditions of treatment of the dead and the decrease in the number of deaths, the Ladies Home Journal, in 1910, suggested that the living room was no longer a room of death, and that it would be appropriate to call it living room. The term has since become widespread, and the room became known univocally as “parlor” or “living room”, losing the english word “death” that characterized it, of course, negatively.