For centuries, religious believers in many cultures have held solemn funeral rites that were then followed by social events that were often called "wakes."
The funeral was the funeral and the wake was the wake, and people rarely confused their traditional religious rituals with the often-festive events that followed, noted blogger Chad Louis Bird, a former Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seminary professor who is best known as a poet and hymn composer.
But something strange happened in American culture in the past decade or two: Someone decided that it was a good idea to have fun funerals.
"Our culture is anxious to avoid dealing with death. It seems that the goal is to keep your head in the sand and not have to face what has happened to your loved one and to your family," said Bird, in a telephone interview.