Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Questions and Answers 160 - 170


On Wakes Before Funerals
Question 160: Should Orthodox Christians have wakes before funerals? What is the purpose of a wake? If so, should they be in churches or funeral homes?

Answer: The term "wake" is a synonym for "vigil", referring to an all-night prayer vigil held before someone's burial. There is a tradition in the Orthodox Church where before the funeral service an all-night vigil takes place in the presence of the reposed, which is complete with a Divine Liturgy. Included in this vigil is also a long series of readings - for clergy the entire New Testament is read, while for laypeople the entire Book of Psalms is read.

There is a misconception that the origins of wakes goes back to the 19th century, before common embalming existed after the American Civil War, and that it refers to the possibility of the deceased "waking up", since being buried alive was a common fear and worry.

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