Saturday, October 24, 2020

Zoo and a Fake Funeral

Saint Louis Zoo is open in a limited capacity and they are making you make a reservation beforehand in order to enforce their limits. We managed to snag one and head over.

Despite the advertised limits on how many virus-filled fatbodies could be at the zoo, there still seemed to be way too many of them in some areas. It freaked me out and I spent most of my brainspace just avoiding them rather than on enjoying the animals.

It must have been feeding time because the babirusa were running around in circles in front of the door to their enclosure.

We were just at Faust Park for a Halloween event but the place had more to give. This time we went farther back into the property and checked out the area around Thornhill, the home of Frederick Bates, Missouri's second governor.

One memorable station had a couple of guys making coffins in an old school fashion.

Gov. Bates was elected in 1824 and died in office in 1825. Spooky! There were some actors playing various members of the family who are buried near the house.

A lady was baking while giving a talk on funeral cookies. I really fell down a rabbit hole reading about this one here. The article theorizes that cavemen used to actually eat some of their dead loved ones before burying them. By the Middle Ages in Germany they had evolved a custom of eating "corpse cakes" that were a more symbolic way of "eating" the dead. The woman of the house would prepare dough and then sit in on the dead person's chest to rise. It would then absorb the dead person's good qualities and pass them on to mourners when they ate. In Ireland they would put a box of snuff on the body and mourners would take pinch. In Britain in the 17th and 18th century a homeless person would be paid to be a "sin eater", doing the same "have a nice little lunch on top of dead uncle Fred" routine but this time it was to suck the sin out and transfer it to the underclass living person. An article by Vice says that this sort of thing still happens today "in traditional Chinese funerals, sin eaters consume the iniquities of the dead which are transferred to dishes of dim sum by a religious authority." 

So... anyhoo the practice further evolved so that by Victorian times they were handing out little cookies with skulls, crosses, or coffins imprinted on them and wrapped in paper with prayers, poems, and baker advertisements on them.

This definitely illuminates all of that "body and blood of Jesus" nonsense, doesn't it?

They were giving tours of the house decorated as if someone had just died, but as I didn't want to just die of covid, I contented myself to take pictures through the windows.

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