Why is it called a Casket?

Funeral caskets are often called "coffins" too. But what's the difference? Have you ever wondered about the name "casket" and its history? In this article, we'll explore the history of funeral caskets, discovering how they started and changed over time. So, let's find out the real story behind this interesting term.
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The Difference Between Caskets and Coffins

Did you know the terms ''caskets'' and ''coffins'' are often used differently, even though they both hold the deceased in funerals? Each has a unique shape and look.

Caskets are more common nowadays and have a rectangular shape. They usually have four sides and look more modern. They have handles on the sides for easy carrying during the service or vigil. This type is often seen in today's funerals.
A selection of modern rectangular funeral caskets

Coffins, in contrast, have a unique design. They're shaped like a hexagon or octagon, with six sides. The top is wider than the bottom, making it look like a classic chest. Coffins are a nod to older, traditional funeral customs.

A traditional coffin shaped like a hexagon
Choosing between a coffin or a casket is based on what people prefer or their culture. Some might pick a modern casket for its sleek design. Others could choose a coffin because of the historical vibe it gives. But both choices are meant to honor the departed respectfully.

The Evolution of Caskets in American Funeral Practices

In the 19th century, especially during the American Civil War, there was a big change in funeral practices in America. The war's high death toll made people focus more on making death look beautiful. This shift led to the use of more elegant and sophisticated caskets. They were meant to provide a dignified way to honor those who had passed.

The term "casket" replaced "coffin" during this time. This change was seen as a gentler way to speak about the dead's final place. Using softer words was a sign of care towards those grieving. It marked the start of a kinder approach in American funerals.

A funeral casket with ornate handles
As American confidence in local materials and design grew, so did the design of funeral caskets. Caskets started to have more intricate details, and elegant handles and decorations became common. These design changes aimed to make the funeral experience grand and respectful.

Over time, these new styles of caskets became more popular. The traditional coffins fell out of favor. This was not just about the designs changing. It showed how American funeral customs and the handling of grief had evolved. The casket became a big part of how Americans rested their loved ones.
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The tradition of using funeral caskets, whether as caskets or coffins, is key in today's memorials. Though many swap the words "casket" and "coffin," they do differ in shape and look. Caskets are rectangular and sleek, while coffins are wider with a unique, old-fashioned design.

Funeral caskets are rectangular and sleek
The way caskets are used in American funerals changed because of the Civil War. This war caused a lot of death and violence. As a result, there was a bigger focus on making those who died look good. That's why fancier caskets appeared, with pretty handles and designs.

Choosing a casket or coffin today depends on what feels right and also cultural and local customs. The U.S. has a variety of funeral customs based on religion and family background. Still, whether it's a casket or coffin, they are a way to show respect for those we've lost. They are meant to be their final resting place.
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