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About Sin Eating

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  • About Sin Eating

    Found today interesting article about original practice of Sin Eating.

    'Appearing in England and Wales as far back as the 17th century, sin eaters were a universally reviled but necessary evil. Against the wishes of the church, sin eaters were called in to relieve the deceased of any sins they might be carrying with them into death. Bread placed on the chest of the laid-out body sucked up the sins of the dead, clearing them for passage to heaven. Once the sins had been captured, the sin eater sat on a stool facing the door and ate the bread, taking on the sins as his own, washing them down with a wooden bowl of ale. There’s no doubt this was a soul-crushing profession. Sin eaters were often homeless wanderers that kept moving through the countryside so as not to be caught and executed by church officials. In public they were social pariahs who were avoided at all costs. Even during the sin-eating ritual they were barely tolerated: when the sin eater’s meal was complete, mourners kicked, punched, and otherwise abused him right out the door to keep the vulgar contents of his belly from contaminating the house. For his efforts, the sin eater made the equivalent of just a few dollars per meal.

    Sin eating remained popular in England and Wales all the way until the turn of the 20th century when England’s last sin eater, Richard Munslow, died in Ratlinghope in 1906. In truth, however, sin eating still exists to this day, albeit in a wholly different shape and form. In traditional Chinese funerals, sin eaters consume the iniquities of the dead which are transferred to dishes of dim sum by a religious authority. Across the world, in the Appalachian mountains of the American South, sin eaters still roam the countryside in search of sins to consume...or so the legend goes.'


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