In the West of Romania (the Oltenia and Banat regions, the peasants believe that a young man who dies unmarried will, angry at God for not allowing him the pleasure of marriage, haunt the village forever more, mainly out of envy, causing bad luck and poor harvests. Since no living young maiden would be expected to sacrifice her youth to marry a dead man, the villagers need to find another kind of bride.
Before the young man is buried, three maidens and three young men will go out into the forest and look for the most powerful, tall, handsome fir tree they can find. The maidens will then begin to carress and whisper to the tree, while the young men will sharpen their axes and bring it down. All six of them will then drag the tree to the village together.
The dead bachelor will normally be lying on a stone slab in the middle of the town, near the church. Another special slab will have been prepared, and the fir tree, with it's branches attached, will be lain next to it. All the young and old people of the village will gather around the tree, and link hands. The only exception are the unmarried women past puberty. They will stand in the background, behind the circle, and often out of sight. As the circle approaches the tree, and begins to cut off it's branches, they will sing: (the words are slightly different for every woman)
Women of the town you have lied to me!
Oh, young girls you have betrayed me
For I was once a proud fir tree
And to my mountainside you came
You lured me here with promises
that a sweet young man would marry me
and now that you have lured me here
I see that he is dead
Now I no longer grow on the hill
Now I am no longer proud in the winter
Now the wind will blow and dry me
Now the worms will suck and chew me
And instead of being married to a young man and brave
I will be the coffin beneath his grave
At the end of this song the old men and women leave the circle and begin to cut the wood in order to make it into a coffin. When the first cut is made into the fir tree the women hiding behind the village will begin howling and crying. After a few minutes they will sing
If I would have known
That my fate was to mourn
I would never have grown
or have never been born
If I would have known
that a I coffin I'd be
I'd have begged the soil
to suffocate me
Obviously, as time goes by and Romania become urban, this tradition is carried out less and less often but I was un/fortuante enough to see it for myself in a small town near one of our offices here. I was going to write a whole lot of commentary about the connection of man to nature, and the meaning of this mourning ritual, but in fact, I don't logically understand what it means any more than anybody else, and as for emotional understanding I suppose everyone just has to feel that on their own.