Saturday, July 13, 2013

Great Bartender Trivia - A Wake vs. a Funeral

Once again - I sincerely believe bartenders and members of a bar and wait staff need to possess lots of trivia knowledge to successfully compete in today's world.  To that end I will always try to share "quality trivia" which I hope you can use to impress your customers and garner bigger tips.

For example, some religions around the world observe a period that is referred to as a "Wake".  The wake is a designated period prior to the actual burial of a deceased loved one. 

Do you know why the Wake period is held?

The concept of the "wake" goes back to the middle ages when many individuals who were thought to have died may not have actually been died.  Many of the drinking vessels used in taverns and homes during that period were made out of un-coated pewter - a strong metal that was easy to bend, shape and engrave. 

People back then who drank ale, wine or brandy frequently came down with an illness.  The illness was actually a type of pewter illness was caused by the alcohol eroding the outer layer of the pewter and the people ingest metallic fragments. 

This pewter illness when severe slowed down their heart rate and made people sleepy - very sleepy.  Many times a person who was thought to be dead and eventually buried was actually in a type of deep sleep or what we would call today a coma.

Some times - for whatever legal reason - a casket had to be exhumed and relocated.  Often finger scratches were clearly visible on the inside of the lid of a coffin and it was obvious to everyone who looked at those marks that the person who was buried was not dead at the time of burial.

Consequently, it became a custom in many European countries to place a bell inside the casket.  Then a group of people - mainly relatives and close friends would volunteer to stay in the cemetery for two days after the burial. If at any time they heard a bell ringing they knew the person they buried was not dead and they would open the casket.  The wake comes out of this old custom.

During a modern day wake a deceased person is laid out in an open casket for at least two days so family members,  friends and business colleagues can visit the casket and personally see for themselves that the person is actually dead before they are buried in the ground.

By the way the customer of the wake is also were we get the modern day expression ... "Saved by the Bell". As many people were often saved by ringing the bell left inside the casket.

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