Cremation: An Enduring Farewell Tradition

For thousands of years, the cremation process has been a chosen, trusted and relied-upon way of bidding family members and loved ones a proper, respectful and dignified goodbye. The process represents a prime alternative to burial for those with strict religious, spiritual or philosophical beliefs. It’s also very often the preferred funerary arrangement for those who don’t wish to burden their loved ones with logistical and financial issues commonly associated with the traditional burial process. Although the concept of cremation has been around for millennia, methods and practices governing its safety and effectiveness. Simple Cremations of New Jersey is at the forefront of the most modern, efficient and effective cremation practices to give you and your loved ones peace of mind and confidence.

History of Cremation

The general academic consensus is that cremation began around 3000 BC in Europe and the Near East. Artifacts from ancient Slavic peoples indicate that cremation began to spread across northern Europe in the late Stone Age. With the advent of the Bronze Age — 2500 to 1000 BC — cremation moved into the British Isles and into what is now Spain and Portugal. Cemeteries for cremation developed in Hungary and northern Italy, spreading to northern Europe and even Ireland. Prevalent though the practice was among the Greeks as well as the Romans, cremation was rare with the early Christians who considered it pagan and in the Jewish culture where traditional sepulcher entombment was preferred.

However, by 400 AD, as a result of Constantine’s Christianization of the Empire, earth burial had completely replaced cremation except for rare instances of plague or war, and for the next 1,500 years remained the accepted mode of disposition throughout Europe.

Cremation in the Modern Era

Modern cremation, as we know it, actually began only a little over a century ago, after years of experimentation into the development of a dependable chamber. When Professor Brunetti of Italy finally perfected his model and displayed it at the 1873 Vienna Exposition, the cremation movement started almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. In the British Isles, the movement was fostered by Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson. Concerned with hazardous health conditions, Sir Henry and his colleagues founded the Cremation Society of England in 1874. The first crematories in Europe were built in 1878 in Woking, England and Gotha, Germany.

Meanwhile in North America, although there had been two recorded instances of cremation before 1800, the real start began in 1876 when Dr. Julius LeMoyne built the first crematory in Washington, Pennsylvania. In 1884 the second crematory opened in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and, as was true of many of the early crematories, it was owned and operated by a cremation society. Other forces behind early crematory openings were Protestant clergy who desired to reform burial practices and the medical profession concerned with health conditions around early cemeteries.

Crematories soon sprang up in Buffalo, New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Los Angeles. By 1900, there were already 20 crematories in operation, and by the time that Dr. Hugo Erichsen founded the Cremation Association of America in 1913, there were 52 crematories in North America and over 10,000 cremations took place in that year. In 1975, the name was changed to the Cremation Association of North America to be more indicative of the membership composition of the United States and Canada. At that time, there were over 425 crematories and nearly 150,000 cremations.

In 1999, there were 1,468 crematories and 595,617 cremations, a percentage of 25 percent of all deaths in the United States. By 2009, there were over 2,100 crematories and over 900,000 cremations…and 37 percent of deaths in the United States were handled through cremation, a percentage that is expected to grow to over half of deaths by 2018.

Backed by Tradition

Cremation may have started in Europe and the Near East; however, it’s traveled thousands of miles over thousands of years to here in New Jersey, where, today, the experienced and compassionate North Jersey cremation professionals at Simple Cremation of New Jersey are here to help you through every stage of the process. Our affiliate New Jersey parlor Bradley & Son Funeral Home has been helping customers with their cremation needs for decades. Get in touch today.

For more information, call: (973) 908-6023