In Ancient Greece, The Deceased Were Honored With Wreaths Of Celery Instead Of Flowers

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Leaving flowers atop the gravestones of loved ones past is one of the most common ways to honor the deceased.

Roses and lilies are some of the more popular flower choices today, but tulips and carnations still get their fair share of use at cemeteries.

While pondering what floral arrangement to bring to your loved one’s grave, though, have you ever considered a wreath made of celery?

Such a suggestion may seem bizarre or random now. But, thousands of years ago, celery was a funeral staple among the Ancient Greeks meant to show unwavering love for the dearly departed.

Of course, the celery the Ancient Greeks used for their memorial wreaths back then looked very different than the vegetable you can pick up at any Stop & Shop or Trader Joe’s across the country now.

Instead, it was wild celery that was native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The stalks were thin and offered a bitter flavor. The celery was also darkly colored and had a potent smell– which immediately caused the Ancient Greeks to associate it with death and the Underworld.

And afterward, celery quickly became a widespread memorial staple. Graves in ancient Greece were covered with the vegetable; meanwhile, deceased individuals were even crowned with their stalks.

At the same time, the relationship between death and celery became so far-reaching that a household saying was created: “deisthai selinon.”

This phrase, which meant “to need celery,” did not indicate that someone needed to munch on more vegetables, though. Rather, when the phrase was uttered, it signified that a loved one was close to dying.

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