Would an alien make candles from his dead relatives?
Answer: Sure. Why not?
We strange Earthoids do all kinds of bizarre things to our loved ones when they pass over; dressing them up, burying them, burning them, publicly telling lies about them. It would all look quite odd from an outsider’s perspective. Take the Victorian tradition of having one last photograph taken with the corpse or Tibetan sky burials, in which the corpse is thrown to the vultures. We really are strange creatures.
Some people choose to keep the barbecued remains of a loved one in a jar on their mantel. It wouldn’t be my choice but I can understand the appeal of having something solid to remind you whichever hypothetical relation we’re talking about here. So why not something nice like a candle? You could burn it on a shrine to the deceased or only light it on special occasions, like Christmas or bar mitzvahs (or whatever the alien equivalent might be). This might be looked upon as invoking the spirit of the dead guy/alien/thing, or perhaps releasing it.
If you’re attending an alien funeral yourself and you’re not sure what to expect, here are a few possibilities…
- Vaporization – Just as we return a person to the Earth, this could be seen as returning them to the sky.
- Taxidermy – You know it makes sense.
- The giving of gifts – Either to the deceased or their family.
- Fasting or feasting – Depending on the aliens’ attitude toward death.
- Cannibalism – This is common among some animal species and while it is relatively rare today it was once an accepted practice in some human cultures.
- Dueling – Family members may fight to decide who inherits the deceased’s position in the family.
- Animal sacrifice – A standard at many ceremonial events.
- Spousal sacrifice – In some ancient cultures the wives of wealthy men were sometimes slaughtered and buried alongside them. In a more advanced civilization suicide might still be expected.
- Nude corpses – the idea of a burial suit is quite strange when you think about it, not to mention impractical. Sensible aliens would likely send their relatives to Hades in their birthday suits.
- Marriage of the corpse – Another ancient Earth tradition. Some parents couldn’t bear to see their daughters leave the world unwed. The groom was usually well paid.
- Slapping, prodding or even stabbing the corpse – Just to make sure it’s dead.
- Decapitation – To stop the deceased becoming a zombie.
- Bodily fluids – Tears are the most common for humans but aliens would probably express emotion differently.
Above all else, remember that our alien cousins see the world very differently. Their religious beliefs, moral views and cultural practices are not related to our own in any way, so anything goes. It’s not their fault they’re freakish barbarians; it’s how mighty Zeus made them.
Do you have a question about what aliens would and wouldn’t do? Ask in the comments section below (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll do my best to answer.