It’s not uncommon to search for the grave of an ancestor, hoping to get some birth or death date from the gravestone (especially in U.S. Research). Before you plan a trip to Denmark to travel around their cemeteries, you should consider some of the social and cultural differences. Here are a few things to consider:
- It has been deeply rooted in the Danish culture (for centuries) to be buried in the churchyard. The majority of burials, whether with a casket or an urn, are still buried in a Lutheran churchyard regardless of religious affiliation. The church yard may have sections for different religious groups for example: Jews, or Muslims.
- With the limited space in the Lutheran churchyards, combined with a steady number of burials over many centuries, the Danes have had a practice of re-using burial plots. Currently they will re-use a burial plot after 20 years (with a casket burial), or 10 years (with an urn), unless the family has made special arrangements to take care of it. When a plot is re-used, the grave stone is removed.
- While a family member’s burial plot is intact, the surviving family will take beautiful care of the grounds. After the remains have returned to the earth, and the actual plot is re-used, the churchyard remains a special place where they feel very connected to their deceased family members.