Why Is It Called A Wake?

Have you ever wondered why Memorial Day celebrations always begin with a so called ‘wake’? The phrase may have derived from the Latin “vigilia” or “watch,” and is associated with the traditional saying “watching for the soul of the dead.

” But there is a lot more to the origin of this celebration that unravels a deeply significant milestone of the small towns and cultures of our past. Read on to explore the cultural significance of the ‘wake’ and traditions behind it, and how are they honoring memories of their dear ones today.

Why is it called a wake?

A wake is a special ceremony that is traditionally part of many cultures. It is usually associated with death and mourning.

In modern times, the wake is usually a time to remember the deceased, while grieving and sharing stories and memories. But why is it called a wake?

Origins of the Wake

The wake has its origins in ancient cultures and was practiced by many different societies, including the Romans, Celts, and Greeks. In these cultures, it was believed that the deceased needed to be protected against evil spirits and that the wake was an important part of this process.

It was also believed that the deceased would need to be watched over until a proper burial could take place.

Catholic Influence

The Catholic Church gave the term ‘wake’ its modern meaning. In medieval times, wakes were held to honor the memory of a person who had recently died.

This was seen as a way to ensure that the soul of the deceased would move on peacefully. During the Catholic wake, prayers would be said and the deceased would be remembered.

The wake was a way for people to express their grief and pay their respects to the deceased.

Modern Wake

Today, the wake is still a popular tradition. It is seen as an important part of the grieving process and a way to come together and remember the deceased.

Wakes usually take place in the days following a funeral. It is a time for family and friends to comfort each other and say goodbye to their loved one. It is common for wakes to include food and drink to help the grieving process.


Although there are many theories as to why it is called a wake, the origin of the term is clear: it began as a way to protect the dead and to allow the soul to move on peacefully. Today, wakes are an important part of many cultures and are seen as a way to express grief and to come together to commemorate the life of the deceased. Citations:https://www. history. com/topics/ancient-history/funeral-practiceshttps://www. catholic. com/encyclopedia/wake-mourning-ceremonyhttps://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Wake_(ceremony)

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