Why is a wake called a wake when you’re certainly not ‘awake’?

WHEN a person passes away, their loved ones will usually attend a funeral service followed by a wake. But what is a wake and why are these gatherings called wakes? Here, you’ll find out more about the origin of the word and what it means in relation to the funeral in different countries.

Why is it called a wake?

The word wake in relation to death originally meant a ‘watch’, ‘vigil’ or ‘guard’. It was used to refer to a prayer vigil, usually held late at night or overnight, where mourners would keep watch over their dead until they were buried. A wake often included prayers and the comforting of relatives, as well as a chance to see and interact with the person one last time. Some wakes would also include feasting and merriment after the vigil was over.

The word can also have different meanings depending on where you are in the world. In the UK, a wake has come to mean the social gathering which takes place almost immediately after the funeral and burial or cremation. It can also be known as a funeral reception.

Mourners will gather back at the person’s house, or at a venue elsewhere, to reminisce, honour the deceased person’s life and have some refreshments. It is a relatively informal, social occasion, quite different from the formality of the funeral service.

While some people won’t want to make decisions about what happens after they die, others may take comfort from making their own plans known ahead of passing.

This can ensure family members and friends can carry out the specific final wishes of a loved one, making sure instructions are followed to the letter.

This includes the intricate details of both the funeral service and the wake.

Taking out a pre-paid funeral plan with Golden Leaves will allow you not only to pay in advance for the services in your chosen plan, therefore, easing the financial burden on loved ones, but also ensures your wishes are recorded and clearly outlined.

For the month of November Golden Leaves are offering a fantastic €150 off all of their Funeral plans, so now is the time to get your paperwork sorted and take advantage of this excellent saving!


Thank you for taking the time to read this news article “Why is a wake called a wake when you’re certainly not ‘awake’?.

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Written by

Charlie Loran

Manchester born mummy with a two year old diva (2020), living on the Costa del Sol for just short of a decade.
Former chef and restaurateur, holistic health fanatic and lover of long words.

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