Since the 7th century, burying people was a church responsibility and took place on church grounds or in the churchyard. When space became limited for burials and churchyards became overcrowded, independent sites referred to as cemeteries were established.
These newer sites were not affiliated with any particular religion and could be located away from a town/city to allow for more space.
What is a Graveyard?
The term graveyard and cemetery are often used interchangeably, but if you want to be able to clearly communicate your final wishes to your next of kin, then it’s best to understand the difference between these two terms. The main difference is that a graveyard is typically associated with a church and located on its property.
In the past, wealthy or influential Christians were often interred inside a church, in a crypt beneath its floor. Less well-off congregants, however, were buried in the churchyard. This area became known as the graveyard.
As the population of Europe grew, it was no longer sustainable for churchyards to handle all of the burials. As a result, completely separate places for the burial of both religious and nonreligious people began to appear—these were called cemeteries. The word cemetery is derived from the Greek koimeterion, which means dormitory or sleeping place. These new places were separated from churches so that they could accommodate a larger number of people.
What is a Cemetery?
A cemetery is an area of land where the remains of dead people are buried. It is also referred to as a burial ground, grave site, or crypt. Historically, the only place you could be buried was within a churchyard or at least adjacent to it, and this was particularly true for wealthy or important members of the community who were often buried in crypts beneath churches.
As populations grew and small churchyards reached capacity, new burial sites came into being that were a bit further away from churches – these were called cemeteries. Unlike churchyards, these new places did not have any religious requirements and were open to all faiths.
This flexibility with respect to religion and faith is one of the things that distinguishes a cemetery from a graveyard. It’s also why family members tend to have more freedom with regards to headstone colours, epitaphs and inscriptions.
What is a Graveyard Shift?
A graveyard shift is a late-night/early-morning work shift. It is also known as the ghoul shift, lobster shift, or the midnight to 8 am shift. The phrase originated in America in the latter 1800s. It was probably named because of the eerie quiet and loneliness of the hours that it covers.
Some people are better suited for night-work than others. However, some studies have shown that people who work the graveyard shift often have higher risks of certain diseases (e.g., breast cancer).
The origin of the graveyard shift may have something to do with being buried alive. Back in the 1800s, medical science wasn’t what it is today. Occasionally, a person who was buried alive would regain consciousness after being pronounced dead. It became common to bury them with a string attached to a bell on the surface so that if they woke up, they could be saved by ringing the bell. This led to the term “graveyard shift” being born.
What is a Graveyard Watch?
A graveyard watch is a shift that is worked during the early hours of the morning, usually from midnight until 8 AM. This shift is also known as the graveyard shift, 3rd shift, or lobster shift. It is thought that the term graveyard watch may have been inspired by the fact that people who were buried alive often had a string attached to a bell on the surface of their coffin, and they would nominate someone to sit and keep “watch” over the grave so that if the buried person awakened and started ringing the bell, he or she could be saved. However, this theory is not widely accepted. See the ‘Meaning & Use’ section below for further information.
Related words include anchor watch, dogwatch, and sunrise watch.