Before I started writing The Funeral Home from EBooksbyJoyceFreese.com, I researched Victorian funeral customs. One that caught my attention was the Victorian Funeral Hair Wreath. I was familiar with this custom because one of my clients had one on her wall. I am a Realtor of 35+ years, and I remember staring at the intricate artwork that was in a shadow box on her living room wall. She explained that it was the hair of her dead grandmother.
This act of remembrance made sense to me. We are often defined by our hair. Depending on the stage of our life, from birth to death, our hair is an extension of who we are.
Who can forget the musical, Hair? In the 60’s, long hair was a symbol of defiance against the establishment, especially those under 30 who could flaunt their lengthy locks. However, as they transitioned into middle age, marriage, mortgages, kids, and responsibility, baldness was not far behind.
Often, our hair is our testimony of who we are during a particular period of our life: from dyed to bleached to shaved to braided to slicked to permed to any variation that is imaginable. As our inner voice changes, so does our hair.
Today, we keep pictures that mark our transition from one stage of life to another. With passing decades, it is the pictures of my family and their hair styles that usually define the era they embraced and captured their unique life moments. We cherish a keepsake of the people we remember. For the Victorians, it was the Funeral Hair Wreath.
Interesting facts of the Victorian Funeral Hair Wreath: From a Post by Joy *
- A mourning wreath could be made up of one member’s hair or a composite of an entire family. As family members died, hair was saved in a “hair receiver.” When enough was accumulated, the hair was fashioned into flowers and leaves by twisting and sewing it around shaped wire forms.
- Shapes were then combined into a U-shaped wreath with the most recently deceased’s hair having a place of honor in the middle of the wreath. This is why wreaths may have a difference in hair colors and textures.
- A family hair wreath was a way of telling about the family and its history; the same way a family tree indicates who members of a certain family are and their relationships, today
- Today, hair wreaths can be found at auctions and estate sales. The value of hair wreaths continues to increase, with prices anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the size and condition.
- Leila’s Hair Museum www.leilashairmuseum.net in Independence, Missouri is the only official hair museum in the world.
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