A belated happy All Saints’ Day to you. If you’ve ever been through the Biloxi Cemetery you may have seen structures over plots that resemble a tent frame.
According to the 1938 WPA Guide to Mississippi the structures are…
“Probably unique among cemeteries of the world is the custom frequently used here of shading the graves with canopies of Spanish moss draped on bars a few feet above the headstones.”
A later edition concedes that these frames are probably not as unique as was claimed in the first edition, stating…
“Here the custom of using Spanish moss as canopies for the graves prevails. On All Saints’ Day Catholic families supplement the moss with flowers according to the religious custom of Latin countries.”
The Latin countries the guide is likely relating to are the Latin Union countries of France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Spain, rather than the Central and South American countries commonly referred to as Latin today.
The canopies are made from 1/2 galvanized iron pipe and steel wire. No two appear identical, varying from plain to elaborate, with the only limitations being those of galvanized iron pipe.
In all my time in Biloxi I have never see bars wrapped with Spanish Moss. But there are several modern equivalents that appear to use prefabricated carport parts. These permanent covers eliminate the need for gathering Spanish Moss. Is this a tradition that is observed in other parts of Mississippi? Does your local burying-ground have a unique tradition?