The Folklore of Infant Deaths: Burials, Ghosts and Changelings

  • Jacqueline Simpson


Literary and artistic treatments of childhood death often highlight the pathos of the theme, drawing upon imagery of innocence, angelic sweetness, and the blighting of early promise, consoled by the firm hope of heavenly peace. Popular customs may express similar attitudes, as when babies are buried in white coffins, or carried to their graves by young girls dressed in white, rather than by adults in black, as was common in Victorian Britain. In present-day Chile, wakes held for young children are called velorios de angelito, and the small bodies are displayed dressed in white, and sometimes wearing a white crown or a string of pearls, to show that the child’s soul is counted among the angels,1 an attitude ultimately, no doubt, based upon Gospel passages in which Jesus stresses the purity of children.


Dead Child Folk Belief Loeb Classical Library High Atlas Mountain Stone Curlew 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline Simpson

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