Rayman, Family and Friends Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner On an Irish Wake Table.
As is our yearly custom, I bundled Mrs. Rayman into the car and off we went to a lodge in Northwestern Wisconsin to celebrate Thanksgiving. Family and friends meet at the lodge and share a beverage or two along with conversation before the big feast. It seems each year our conversation turns to the table. Our table is laden with turkey, cranberries, pies, and all the traditional Thanksgiving dinner trimmings, but the truth is, it is a very special and unique table with quite a history, it’s an “Irish Wake Table.”
Times and customs have changed dramatically over the years, but sometimes it’s interesting to see what customs were used by our ancestors. Many years ago, when someone in the family would die, it was not unusual to have the viewing of the body at home, usually in the front room (living room). Needing a place to lay the body for the wake, the logical choice was to use the largest table in the home which was the dining table. The body was carefully placed on the center of the table, and the sides of the table were turned up on both sides. After the viewing, a service may or may not be held there, then the body was removed for burial.
An authentic Irish Wake Table is very rare, and difficult to find in this day and time. The custom is even more rare, in fact I doubt it is used at all anymore. Nonetheless, it is a unique piece of history that served it’s purpose at the time, and served us a nice Thanksgiving meal today.