Cremation is now an organized and institutionalized option in Greece.

Cremation is a choice for many people, which has not always been an easy option in Greece. However, for some time now, the procedures for cremation have been simplified, with the first crematorium opening in Ritsona, Evia, and starting operation in October 2019.

Why to choose cremation

Cremation, both as a service and as a procedure, is chosen either by a declaration during life by the deceased or by the next of kin after death.

The reasons behind this choice vary. Cremation may be chosen because of ideology, beliefs about spirituality, or to hasten the emotional separation from the physical body of the deceased. Additionally, cremation comes with reduced cost as there is no need to construct and therefore, maintain a tomb. In any case, cremation is a practice with a long-standing presence in the customs of various peoples and cultures over a wide geographical area, and one of the most common in the world today.

Cremation in Greece

Cremation in Greece takes place since 2019 in Ritsona Evia, which is the first Center of Cremation (KAN), in Greece. The cremation process and the operation of the cremator plant shall be governed by the legislation relevant to its operation. As a result, the complex and costly procedure of repatriating the dead body to neighboring countries for cremation is unnecessary.

Funeral Homes and cremation

If the family of the deceased wish for cremation of the body, they first must speak with a funeral home. The funeral home in turn will contact the crematorium to schedule the date and time of the cremation. Direct requests towards the crematorium by relatives are not accommodated.

The chosen funeral home will set the date and time for the cremation of the body and the relevant to the cremation procedures based on the directions and wishes of the relatives.

We clarify that cremation of a body can take place only a few days after death (instead of burial) and cremation of bones within 3 years (instead of bone preservation after exhumation).

How is cremation carried out

According to the rules for the cremation of a body, the process is divided into two main stages: combustion and treatment of solid residues with incineration.

First, the body is placed in a coffin made entirely of wood (without paint, varnish, lining or metal parts) and then into the cremation chamber, where it is burned at a high temperature. During the next cremation stage, the bones and remnants are put into a grinder, or cremulator, that uses ball bearings or rotating blades. There the remains are pulverized into dust. The ash and the product from the cremulator are placed in the urn, a special storage container chosen by the relatives.

The combustion process takes about 75'-90' in total, but the urn is delivered to the family within the next 2 hours, when the temperature of the container is at normal levels.

The ash after the cremation - Ash scattering

Regarding the scattering of the ash, the unique - at present, Ritsona Crematorium, offers the following:

Ash scattering within the Crematorium
It includes:
  • Ash burial in the memorial garden of the Crematorium.
  • Outdoors storage of the urns in our Colombarium.
  • Scattering of the ash in the Crematorium Garden.

Ash scattering outside of the Crematorium.
Where it is preferable to transport the ashes off the premises of the crematorium, one of the following methods shall be chosen for the final farewell of the deceased:

  • Ash burial in the memorial garden of the Crematorium.
    Sea ash scattering by boat. First, a special location is chosen, to which the attendees are taken by boat, to say the final farewell. When the boat reaches the desired location the engine stops, and he urn is slowly placed into the sea along with flowers.
    Then the boat rotates three times around the urn. The horn of the boat and the bell of the ship sound mournfully. After the ceremony, the captain hands over to the family the certificate of ash burial certificate with details of the deceased, the name of the boat, the geographical coordinates of the burial site and the date and time of burial.
    The ceremony can be repeated at the same coordinates, if desired by the family, on a day of particular significance (e.g., annual memorial service).
  • Ash scattering by air
    For ash scattering by air, we choose unique locations that are accessible by gliders or drones. During the ceremony, the relatives gather at the site where the scattering takes place, to witness the release of ash in the air. The ash forms a path in the air, which gradually disappears creating a beautiful and permanent memory.
  • Ash burial
    The burial of the ashes in nature takes place in a specific place, at the suggestion of the family or at the request of the deceased. The ash is buried in the roots of large trees in forest areas.

Ritsona Crematorium provides a video on all ash scattering options. These and other similar ash scattering options, such as the creation of a commemorative object (e.g., necklace, cross, memorial monument, etc.) by placing the ash inside it, are applied abroad and are gradually being applied in Greece as well. The process of burning the bones after exhumation and scattering the ashes is also carried out with minor variations. Services that may be offered before or after the cremation process, include service of a full meal or coffee, video projection of a tribute to the deceased or photographic material, etc. he ceremony can take places in places outside the Ritsona Crematorium.

Supporting and required documents for cremation

Every natural person retains the right to declare their choice to be cremated after death. They may submit the relevant documents to the Crematorium and designate the person responsible for fulfilling their wish. In this case, and where the declaration is drafted by notarial deed, the cremation shall be carried out compulsorily, regardless of whether the relatives of the deceased raise objections after their death.

If the decision to cremate the deceased is taken by their relatives - after their death - a copy of the "Forensic Certificate for cremation" is added to the documents necessary for the implementation of the cremation. This is done after it has been submitted to the Registry Office for the issuance of the certificate of cremation. This procedure is undertaken by the funeral home.

Cremation and Church

o date, cremation is not recognized by the Holy Synod as a procedure that can be accompanied by an exhumation ceremony according to Orthodox practice.

However, in practice there are cases of some priests who accept to officiate at cremations according to the current standard (see note⁴). The preferred option is a religious (trisagion) or political ceremony, organized by the funeral home and the relatives in the Grief Hall of the Crematorium.

Cremation Cost

The cost of the cremation process consists of the main cost of the cremation and is increased - depending on the additional choices made by the family, that is, the fee of the funeral home, the decoration of the ceremony, the provision of a meal or coffee, he purchase of an urn, or the purchase of other of the Crematorium services such as ash scattering.

The costs of cremation shall be covered by the insurance funds in a manner similar to that provided for burials.

Useful links for information on cremation:

  1. Official Webpage of Ritsona Crematorium Center
  2. Civil Non-Profit Company Hellenic Cremation Society
  3. By means of Commission Decisions No. 707/2020 and 708/2020 decisions of the Council of State approved the creation of a new Cremation Center in the area of Eleonas in the municipality of Athens with the possibility of proceeding with the construction of these facilities immediately.
  4. According to the findings of Antonis Alakiotis, President of the Hellenic Society of Cremation. For more information, watch. His interview on 19-11-2020, Ethnikos Kirikas, p. 19-20 19-20.