For most of us, death is a real bummer. But for the people interred at the Merry Cemetery in Romania, being worm food is downright delightful.

That’s because instead of drab stone grave markers, the tombstones in Sapatna, Romania‘s Merry Cemetery are colorful, artistic, and representative of the individual who is buried beneath. According to most sources, this tradition started with a local artist named Stan Ioan Pătraş who started carving and painting these headstones in 1935. By the 1960s, over 800 similarly ornate markers covered the cemetery, and today the entire complex is considered to be an open-air gallery of this jovial death art.

Inside each sky blue monument sits a childlike painting of the deceased, as well as an entertaining poem about how they lived and died. My personal favorite, for reasons you are probably well aware of if you’re a follower of this site, is this inscription:

As long as I lived, 
I loved the Party
And all my life 
I tried to help the people.

So why do the people of Sapanta, Romania take such joy in something that everyone else dreads? Attribute it to ancient history: the Dacian culture that thrived in what is now Romania believed that the human soul was immortal and therefore death was just the transition into bigger and better things, and apparently this trait has lingered in the region through the millennia.

Take a look for yourself at the result of this ancient tradition, and maybe lighten up about the prospect of your imminent demise:

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Images courtesy of Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archivepremus, & atkinson000 via Flickr

Would you visit the Merry Cemetery in Romania, or do you prefer your cemeteries to be a little more macabre? Let us know in the comments!

Steven tried out for The Amazing Race one time and was denied. We're not saying this is why he started this site, but it may have been a contributing factor in his decision to explore the world online and share his travel inspiration with others.

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