Nowadays, you would probably be hard-pressed to find someone who genuinely enjoys spending alone time in cemeteries.
I mean, these resting sites have been dubbed some of the most unsettling and creepiest places in popular media, and most people only visit them to see a passed loved one.
But, not that long ago, American cemeteries were actually one of the most favored picnic spots.
This trend started during the nineteenth century and quickly spread throughout the entirety of the United States. And interestingly, the practice sparked out of necessity.
At the time, most municipalities still did not have proper recreational areas where friends and families alike could go to enjoy some fresh air or eat a meal. So, many people took to their local cemeteries to break bread.
If you are imagining people bringing along a few fruits or a cheese and cracker spread, though, you are wildly underestimating these picnics of the past. Instead, people would actually go all out and bring full-blown meals with them.
In New York, for example, city dwellers would often visit Saint Paul’s Churchyard located in Lower Manhattan and bring along baskets packed with beef sandwiches, ginger snaps, and fruits.
And in Ohio, community members would show up to the Woodland Cemetry in Dayton via horsedrawn carriage. Then, they would don parasols and promenade through the property before sitting down to feast.
Aside from the sheer lack of parks, though, there were also other more sentimental reasons why people of the 1800s coveted cemeteries as the ideal social outing spot.
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