Even though ‘graveyard’ and ‘cemetery’ are both used to refer to a burial site, if we want to be a bit geeky about it, we will find that there is indeed a difference between the two.
Simply said, a graveyard adjoins a church, whereas a cemetery does not but keep reading for a more detailed explanation.
To fully understand the difference we have to go a few centuries back. (the article continues after the ad)
From around the 6th century C.E., the burial process was in the hands of the Church. To do so, the Church was burying the dead on the lands near the church building, what we call, the churchyard. Graveyard is the part of the churchyard that was used for burial. Here is a picture of a graveyard (notice the church building on the back):
But as the population of Europe started to grow, it was impossible to fit all the people in the graveyards. Therefore, new burial sites have been created that weren’t attached to a church. These new burial sites that are not adjoined to a building are called cemeteries. Here’s a picture of one (notice that there is no church building near the site):
There is also one more difference between a graveyard and a cemetery: You can bury ashes in a cemetery but you cannot do so in a graveyard.
The etymology is also very interesting. Graveyard comes from the words ‘grave’ (from the Proto-Germanic ‘graban’ which means ‘to dig’) and ‘yard’. The word Cemetery comes from the Old French ‘cimetiere’ which comes from the Greek ‘koimeterion’ (“a sleeping place”).
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: This Is The Difference Between ‘Gelato’ And ‘Ice Cream’
Photos: Creative Commons
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