Generally, cemeteries are not a place for fun but there is one in Romania known as the Merry Cemetery. Here is why.
It is said that you are going to laugh yourself to death here. Unless you are already dead. Obviously the black humour is the strong suit of the residents of the Romanian village of Săpânța.
When any of the around 3,000 residents of the village dies, the local farmer, poet and painter Dumitru Pop grabs the chisel and the brush and reproduces ordinary moments of deceased person’s life on the wooden cross in the form of funny cartoons. Not a single embarrassing truth about the late person’s life is saved, while often the absurd causes of death turn to be the major accent in the story. Your eyes will start hurting because of the bright colours in a sunny day, while the poems written on the crosses tell a simple story of a simple life.
Leran the story
The start of the unusual tradition was set by another local master - Stan Ioan Pătraş, who drew his first epitaph in around 1935 and got engaged with this custom until 1977 when his apprentice Dumitru took the torch.
Read the poems
If you persuade a local resident into translating the poems, you will definitely appreciate the Merry Cemetery.
Local butcher George Basultu, for instance, died in 1939 and had an absolutely straightforward life:
As long as I lived,
I skinned many sheep,
I made nice meat,
So you can eat in peace.
I offered perfect fatty meat,
To meet your Bon Appétit.
Joan Toaderu, on the other hand, loved horses, but his epitaph also specifies that...
Another thing I loved much,
Was to sit on a table in the pub,
Especially to someone else’s spouse.
Useful information: Sapanta is located at Romania’s border to Ukraine, around 230 km away from the city of Cluj-Napoca, 670 km away from Bucharest. When you are there, ask for Cimitirul Vesel (the Merry Cemetery in Romanian).