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Funerals and burials are a hugely important part of modern British life.

Although we thankfully now live longer and fuller lives than our ancestors, the loss of a loved one is no less heartbreaking.

However the tradition of the wake dates back even further - long before Christianity.

It referred to the period of time before burial, when family and friends would keep a constant vigil over the body as it lay in wait at the home.

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Funeral procession Funeral processions led by the hearse (funeral car carrying the coffin) are still used in UK funerals, particularly in close-knit communities.From the pre-Christian Celts who believed in reincarnation filling their graves with items needed for the next life, to our modern day scientific knowledge of the process of death.Yet some customs and traditions have remained through the ages.Funeral flowers Flowers were traditionally used alongside candles in the room during wakes to mask unpleasant smells which we have now avoided thanks to advances in mortuary care; however the deeper meanings behind the tradition have encouraged its continuation.White lilies remain the most popular flower choice, stemming from their symbolism of the innocence of the soul.