Visiting Aarhus University last week I took the chance to visit one of the local cemeteries. Vestre kirkegaard was established in 1927 and is a carefully landscaped graveyard. When I arrived there were quite some greenskeepers active to keep the place neat. And neat it is! The place appears well organized and quite spacious. Most graves are shaped like little gardens fenced by low – and well trimmed – hedges. Each little garden functions as a family grave and they all look very similar in their very toned down style. I saw a plot with neatly trimmed bushes and grass that was called ‘skov kirkegaard’ – ‘forest churchyard’. Quite a contrast to the cemetery I visited in Kraków the week before- Is this the typical contrast between a Roman Catholic and a Lutheran Protestant tradition?
Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city with 320.000 inhabitants. Graveyards and crematoriums are mainly owned by the Lutheran Church (majority church of Denmark). Interesting how in a secular and multicultural country like Denmark the church is the formal death authority.
On site there were also two chapels and a crematorium (with a visible chimney – something that seems to be avoided in Dutch crematoriums). The cremation rate in Denmark is one of the highest in Europe and the World (about 80%). As I am working on a research proposal on crematorium workers in the Netherlands and Denmark there will be more on this topic soon!
All pictures are taken by Claudia Venhorst, May 17th 2017.