Today in the European Union there is a rate of about 36% cremation of corpses. Some European countries recorded an almost dominant rate of cremation upon the burial, having a consistent tradition in promoting and using this practice (Switzerland, Czech Republic, Sweden, United Kingdom). In other European countries cremation is a much lower rate, making it clear differences between countries ( for instance countries where it is the degree of secularization is somewhat low, or where traditional models still have an extensive influence upon society). However, these differences require medium and large-amplitude scientific analysis, since this situation involves a series of particular significances, revealing something of the profile of various society throughout of history . Analysis of cremation as a reality is significant, taking into account that from the historical point of view its reintroduction in modern societies has always been a point of tension in society duet o the fact that different patterns were put under discussion and also the influence/traditional position of the christian churches. Cremation is a clear sign of modernization, apparently an aggressive one, which gradually underwent a ritualization, meant to cover an initial lack of the symbolic capita. Gradually over the twentieth century in Western countries the attitudes towards cremation has changed, an essential impulse for this being its acceptance by Catholic Church after Vatican II Concilia (1963).
Scientific research on cremation registred notable growth in the last years, but these researches have not reached the magnitude of the death studies. The explanation consists in the inconveniences of topic, on one hand. On the other hand, it is about the large differences of cremation rate between European countries (the interest rate upon cremation is proportional to the interest of scientific community). Identify a situation that Stephen Prothero in his book dedicated to the history of in United States of America, stressing that the idea of incineration as a taboo as scientific subjects is more real than in the l case of research on death studies. Despite this, there is a series of cremation studies in the UK, U.S., Korea, Australia, South Africa.
It is significant that the only available internationally data on cremation in Romania are found in the chapter dedicated to this country published in Encyclopedia of Cremation by Lewis Mates in 2004. It is also relevant that until recently, the International Cremation Federation, did not have any information on cremation statistics in our country. Such a situation shows us the lack of vision and expressed interest upon this topic in the Romanian public and scientific environment.
In Romania, cremation is almost unknown topic to the scientific community, a situation could be explained by several factors:
1. the weak development of cremation in Romania – Romania has currently only one functional crematorium for a country with a population of 22 million inhabitants, namely that of Vitan Barzesti Crematorium. Cremation rate is less than 1,000 per year (751 cremations in 2009, 855 cremation in 2010). This is a paradoxical situation from several perspectives: Romania was the first Orthodox country in the world where first Crematorium was opened in 1928 in Southeastern Europe, being a pioneer in the development of practice for those times. On the other hand, perhaps the most significant problem of the actual Romanian death system is the crisis of burial places in the urban area. In spite of situation after 1990 there were not appeared notable initiatives for promoting and sustaining the development of cremation to resolve such a crisis. The neighbough countries of Romania, for example Hungary recorded a rate cremation of 36%, here are also up about 12 crematories. Closer to the Romanian space, Bulgaria has only one crematorium at the Sofia opened in 2001, where performed annually around 5000 cremations.
2. position of the Romanian Orthodox Church – is a vehement rejection of cremation attitude adopted following the decisions of the two Councils of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1928 and 1933. These decisions are still available today and explain the rejection of cremation in a part of the Romanian society of nowadays.
3. the gap between the Romanian and foreign scientific research in this field: this gap is present at the level of death studies in general and it is more obvious in the field of cremation. Basically, in addition to researches undertaken by the author of this project proposal is recorded only a few items that have touched the topic.
An analysis of cremation in Romania is by definition an interdisciplinary one, involving the investigation of the issue of historical elements, attitude and mental aspects of new theological and ecclesiastical implications of the model etc..