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A Grave Look At 5 Common Cemetery Symbols

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A Grave Look At 5 Common Cemetery Symbols

Halloween is right around the corner and at this time of year, our minds turn to thoughts of witches, ghosts, and spooky cemeteries. But cemeteries are much more than a backdrop for scary stories and zombies. They are a place to respectfully honor those we have lost. In fact, graveyards and headstones can tell us a lot about the people who are buried there. Cemetery symbols provide the living with a glimpse into the deceased’s everyday interests and afterlife aspirations, giving us a better understanding of their world and the lives of previous generations.

Here’s a look at the meanings behind these 5 popular cemetery symbols:

5 Common Cemetery Symbols

1. Angel

cemetery symbols


Whether weeping or showing joy, angels are messengers of God employed to bring us comfort in the expectancy of a harmonious afterlife.

2. Calla Lily

headstone symbols

Calla Lily

This beautiful bloom on a headstone often symbolizes marriage and became popular in the late 1800s when the flower was imported from South Africa.

(Continued Below)

3. Draped Urn

cemetery symbols

Draped urn

Often draped with a cloth, this symbol represents the veil between the worlds. Urns were very common in the 1800s.

4. Door

cemetery symbols

Angel at the door.

A door is seen as a partition between this world and the next, hence the phrase “knocking on death’s door.”

5. Finger

cemetery symbols

Finger (pointing upward)

(Pointing Upward) – This cemetery symbol indicates that the soul went to heaven, even if the body is in the ground.

Finger (Pointing Downward) – While the natural thought is that the soul is heading to the “other place,” in reality, a finger pointing downward indicates God beckoning the soul up to heaven.

The above is an excerpt from Cemetery Symbolism, pp. 112-13 in the 2019 Farmers’ Almanac. Get your copy today!

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