While the practice of decorating graves is not as popular as it once was, it is still
An elegant and well-tended display.
practiced. The big day for this is still Memorial Day. At Calvary, there are more visitors during Memorial Day weekend than the rest of the year combined.
Flowers are the principle decoration. While all flowers must be put into an approved container, the big choice is whether to buy fresh or artificial flowers.
To the general public, artificial flowers on a grave probably make a lot of sense. They can be cheaper, they last longer and their color fades slowly. What’s not to like?
But there are reasons Calvary favors the use of real flowers for grave site decorations.
Real flowers may not last long, especially in the colder months, but their brief beauty is in keeping with the natural, garden-like setting of the cemetery. There’s also an appropriate analogy between the brief beauty of the flower and the brevity of human life.
Mankato florist Jeanie (owner of Flowers by Jeanie) reports that the majority of her customers buy fresh flowers for grave site decorating. It doesn’t matter to them, Jeanie says, that the flowers do not last. What’s important is that a visit was made.
(Jeanie has a charming story about cemetery visitation. Her mother was in the habit of visiting and tending the grave of her husband. His grave happened to be next to the grave of a woman whose husband also visited regularly. Jeanie’s mother and the widower eventually got to know each other. One thing led to another, and the two started dating and eventually married!)
Although artificial flowers are durable, the weather will eventually destroy them. When real flowers fall apart, they just quietly disappear. When artificial flowers eventually fall apart, their scattered pieces must be picked up by hand. Very few cemetery caretakers are bullish on artificial displays.
A display in need of repair or removal.
While Calvary’s rules state that artificial flower displays must be changed or updated twice a year, many are installed by visitors for Memorial Day and left there. More often than not, they are removed by the caretakers or the wind when they fall apart or become hopelessly unattractive.
Remember that even a strong concrete, stone or ceramic pot is not a match for the Minnesota winter. When the freeze hits, the moisture in the dirt expands and the pot may crack.
If you are thinking of decorating the grave of a loved one and have questions, please check the Rules & Regulations page on this blog or talk with Terry Miller, Calvary’s Caretaker. The Calvary Board of Directors and Terry want you to enjoy your visits to the cemetery.