Quiet, sombre and full of grey and weathered headstones – this, a typical English cemetery, is what you will find up and down the country in the UK. It’s not uncommon to find similar cemeteries here in Romania too; there are plenty of them – however, one cemetery in particular, located in the small village of Săpânța, does things a little differently.”Cimitirul Vesel” or “Merry Cemetery” is a place like no other. Headstones are brightly painted, lavishly decorated and depict life stories, poems, drawings and carvings of the person buried beneath. Often, the pictures are humorous and the verses written below are full of jokes and satire. These monuments are seen as great celebrations of loved characters whose families want them to be remembered in a unique way.
An example of a humorous epitaph from the Merry Cemetery:
“Underneath this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother-in-law
Had she lived three days more
I would be here and she would read this
You that are passing by
Try not to wake her up
For if she comes back home
She’ll bite my head off
But I will act in the way
That she will not return
Stay here my dear
I am all for a sit down on a bench that has a lovely view, but I found it a little strange to find benches right in front of graves at the Rulikowski Cemetery in Oradea.
At first I thought they might be memorial benches, but on closer inspection there was no sign of a named memorial plate or anything like that. Perhaps if you spend a certain amount, you get a bench thrown into your grave plot deal. Maybe they are for overwhelmed grievers…or just people that enjoy sitting in cemeteries – I’m not sure, but whatever the reason, these benches were everywhere!