Because even “death is not free”: formalities and regulations far beyond the grave
It is well intended. Important, even. The canton of Basel-Stadt is very respectful in matters regarding the deceased. Ensuring Muslims are buried in their own part of the graveyard (positioned towards Mecca), and making sure a place is found for “free thinkers” is something which is regulated down to the smallest detail, long after death. This can clearly be seen in the city gardeners’ most recent guidelines.
There is a scene which remains with me. The public viewing and the funeral service at the Hörnli cemetery were already over. The funeral of my grandfather, who had been cremated, should actually have taken place in Einsiedeln. My father had taken the week off work before the funeral, which took place on a Saturday. This was a great thing for a ten-year-old. As he asked me if I wanted to come with him to collect the urn, I climbed enthusiastically into the family car. Even today I am amazed when I think back to that day: at the counter my father had to show his identification, before he signed all the paperwork. Only then did the friendly official take the right urn full of ashes from the shelf, offered us a bag and asked for 24.75 francs. I cannot remember the exact amount, but it was certain that I no longer understood the world. On one side, the massive mourning at home, the grief in the family, and on the other side, red tape, the question of whether we want a bag for the urn, and a ridiculous amount of money.
The right procedure in the event of a death
These days, the city gardening team, which is responsible for burials, deals with informing the public about the right way to deal with death. In a brochure, they introduce the subject with the words “Even when your heart is heavy, certain formalities equally need to be taken care of.” And actually, death brings with it a considerable amount of red tape. If someone dies at home, a death certificate signed by a doctor is needed, which must be taken along with the family or marriage certificate to the office for the registration of deaths and funerals.
Free funerals for Baslers
In preparing for a funeral, how it is conducted depends on whether the dead person had left behind instructions about how exactly they wanted to be buried. These instructions, which are “binding”, must also be brought to the registry office. The registry office staff also clarifies whether the deceased person has the right to a free Basler funeral. In cases such as this, the coffin and shroud worn by the deceased is provided by the canton. If someone died lonely, alone, and their relatives and partner are already dead, the body will be cremated and buried in an anonymous communal grave, writes the city gardening team.
After that, there are more questions to clarify, which are ten in their number. Such as: “Should the deceased wear free clothes (a so-called shroud), or their own private clothes?” There is some consolation, according to the brochure: “When you feel you are not in the position to fulfil the organisational matters surrounding the funeral, an undertaker can be appointed.” Thank God, one would sigh. However, the officials warn: “In any case, ensure that all services offered are put in writing and with a precise quotation.”
Eternal rest – but done correctly
Who can imagine what can happen? I just take them home and have my rest. However, this also needs approval. “As family members you can submit an appropriate request.” When you have received the permit, you are allowed to take the ashes of the deceased person home to store them, put in a private grave or spread the ashes in a permitted place, as long as piety is observed.
Within the 24 pages of the brochure, there is naturally plenty of space to mention what must be taken into account as far as coffins are concerned. “The law states that the coffin must be built from biodegradable wood.” Whoever wants to erect a headstone must of course apply for a permit. “Every tombstone needs a certificate, which the cemetery administration grants on receipt of an application form as well as a sketch or a model of the headstone.” The jungle of regulations and Basel idiosyncrasies go beyond the scope of a small news article. Even when it comes to caring for the headstone, there is a lot to consider.
Part of the Münster
However, one point is particularly significant: When a row of graves at Hörnli cemetery is lifted, this will at first be published in the official gazette. Then the gravestone must either be collected, or if it is considered to have “artistic value”, there will be an exhibition at the Hörnli, and if it is made out of sandstone, this would happen: Red sandstones will be delivered to the Münster construction team and it be integrated back into the Münster as part of the renovations. A part of the Münster. Now that is something special. It can only happen in Basel.
Herbstwarenmesse (Autumn goods fair) will not take place in 2018
For the 91st time, the Herbstwarenmesse (Autumn goods fair) took place in the Rundhofhalle at Basel’s exhibition square last year. The concept however could not be profitably optimised. Therefore, the event will come to an end in the autumn of 2018.
The change in consumer behaviour of visitors, triggered by stronger competition of Internet platforms, the sinking relevance of the offers of the Messe, and the lacking sales success of the exhibitors seems to also be a reason for the end of the annual Herbstwarenmesse. “We know that the Herbstwarenmesse generation of Basel got a lot of pleasure out of it,” says Daniel Nussbaumer, trade fair director for the Herbstwarenmesse and muba, who regrets the decision to cancel the traditional fair. “Nevertheless, it seems this is necessary conceptually.”
Focus is on muba and new concepts
Additionally, there was the difficult and no longer up-to-date constellation with two public events in Basel every year. “It was a long decision making process, in which all arguments were weighed up,” Mr Nussbaumer says, adding that also muba, the oldest public fair, is in the middle of a transformation process. A number of different concepts are being developed as a successor to the autumn trade fair.
The Basel Wine and Food fair is not affected by these changes and will start, as usual, in October at Hall 2, parallel to the Autumn fair, with the cable cars and booths on the Messeplatz.
Pedestrian struck by car: witnesses sought
The traffic police are looking for witnesses after a car hit a pedestrian shortly before 7am yesterday (Monday) morning.
Those involved in the accident, which happened at Lehenmattstrasse 309 (at the Stadionstrasse junction), gave conflicting statements to the police.
Anyone with information about the accident is asked to contact the traffic police in Basel.