Cemetery or graveyard?

As is often the case there are two English words for one German. Der Friedhof can be translated as  graveyard or cemetery, but what is the difference?

A cemetery: “a large burial ground, especially one not in a churchyard.” These can range from the famous Highgate Cemetery in London (this on my list of places to visit) to the very moving World War I cemeteries at Ypres in Belgium.

A graveyard:a burial ground, especially one beside a church.”   These are steeped in family history, especially as the graves don’t get removed. Unlike here in Germany, where families lease grave sites for a specific period of time, usually from 15 to 30 years, in England you get to keep the plot (gravestone and all) – it is yours for life (or eternity).

The English graveyards are usually maintained by the church and one of the cheapest and most effective ways is to allow sheep to graze on and around the graves. This is quite a strange scene for a non-English visitor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *