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During a burial today, I noticed the coffin was buried facing East.

Where does this Christian tradition come from?

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BTW, I may be making an assumption as to why you were at a burial, but if it was for a loved one, I'm sorry for your loss. – David Dec 31 '11 at 7:25
Thanks David very kind. Yes, My Grandmother passed away two days ago. She died with her family and is with God now. Happy New Year! – Gabriel Fair Dec 31 '11 at 13:37
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It's not a purely Christian tradition. Other religions practice this as well. There's an article here on that gives an overview of the origins of the practice. Some highlights:

  • According to "Ethnicity and the American Cemetery," the feet of the deceased face east as well. This tradition is based on the belief that when Jesus returns, the departed will rise from the grave already facing his direction.

  • According to Northumberland County Council, the tradition began when Pagans buried the dead so they would face the rising sun.

Also note that it's not universal. We have a cemetery tied to a Church a few miles from here where the graves all point to the North, and several others I've visited have some facing one way, and others at right angles - those graves are laid out to maximize use of the land.

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Some people believe that God moves east to west. At the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation He will come in from the East moving to the west. The idea was too bury the bodies facing east so that when the rapture happens they will already be facing toward His coming. This is more tradition than it is biblical but they did it for that reason.

On the other hand as a Jew you always approached God as at the tabernacle moving east to west. This was important as the pagans always worshiped facing east so in a way you should bury them facing west as not to face the pagan rising sun. How a Jew in the Old Testament or a Christian in the church age and how they are buried is not important..

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! I hope you'll spend some time browsing the questions and answers here. I would suggest editing this answer to provide some references supporting your statements, and also to remove some of your own opinions about those practices. For tips on using this site well, please visit the Help Center. – Lee Woofenden Apr 14 '15 at 21:17
Please edit this to fix your typos. I'm quite sure that no one was buried in any orientation in order to be ruptured! – curiousdannii Apr 15 '15 at 1:09

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