Archive for May, 2011

Sartorial Splendor

Recently, a particularly precocious little girl, while at the funeral of her grandmother, wondered aloud about whether the undertaker “was going to carry gran-gran to heaven [by way of] using his Superman cape.” It brought to mind a question we had hoped to look at…. Why do Undertakers wear what they wear?

Anyone attending a funeral in Barbados can, without a doubt, immediately spot the funeral director. Bedecked in tailcoat, waistcoat and pinstriped grey pants he is often the most flashily dressed male present despite the muted palette of his clothing.

The traditional dress of the male undertaker in Barbados is a variation of the traditional British morning dress, the formal daytime dress code. For men this consisted of

* Morning tailcoat
* Waistcoat (black for funerals)
* Formal striped or checked trousers worn with braces
* Formal shirt with tie or ascot
* Handkerchief or pocket square placed in front breast pocket
* Black Oxford shoes or dress boots
* Optional top hat and other accessories

An all black version of the morning suit is sometimes referred to as a mourning suit and was the traditional wear for funerals.

Being the suitable attire for important social events, morning dress was naturally worn to funerals; a tradition still carried out by funeral directors in Barbados today. This strict code is often relaxed by local undertakers to include dove or charcoal grey coloured waistcoats. Indeed, there are few ‘modern’ men who still employ the use of braces or suspenders to hold their pants up. Top hats, though a rarity, are also not unheard of.

But what of female funeral directors? Morning dress for women was simply an appropriate dress. This would hardly allow female undertakers to distinguish themselves from the other female mourners in attendance. Instead they opt for a feminised version of the men’s attire. They are often seen wearing black or pinstriped skirts, formal shirts with optional tie or neckpiece and a black jacket though without tails.

One must be well turned out, at the ‘turn-out’. Sartorial Splendor, indeed!


Say What?!?

We Bajans love to laugh as much as anyone. Although funerals are sad and emotional occasions, that doesn’t mean we can’t lighten the burden with some humour. Here are some funny quotes about death and funerals I found as I was trawling the internet. Believe it or not, some people actually use these in eulogies!

On Death

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
– Jerry Seinfeld

“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
– Woody Allen

“Dead man cyaan run from ‘e own coffin.”
– Bajan proverb

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
– Isaac Asimov

“Sickness an’ death does mek alteration.”
– Bajan proverb

On Funerals

“A friend of mine stopped smoking, drinking, overeating, and chasing women — all at the same time. It was a lovely funeral.”
– Unknown

“In the final analysis, it’s true that fame is unimportant. No matter how great a man is, the size of his funeral usually depends on the weather.”
– Rosemary Clooney

“If you don’t go to other people’s funerals, they won’t go to yours.”
– Bob Monkhouse

“They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.”
– Garrison Keillor

“In the city a funeral is just an interruption of traffic; in the country it is a form of popular entertainment.”
– George Ade

On Eulogies

“I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realise I’m listening to it.”
– George Carlin

“A funeral eulogy is a belated plea for the defense delivered after the evidence is all in.”
– Irvin S Cobb

On Life after Death

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. ”
– Winston Churchill

“For days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow, but phone calls taper off.”
– Johnny Carson

“My uncle Sammy was an angry man. He had printed on his tombstone: What are you looking at?”
– Margaret Smith

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work… I want to achieve it through not dying. ”
– Woody Allen

“I don’t mind dying, the trouble is you feel so bloody stiff the next day.”
– George Axlerod

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