Lifestyle & Belief

A grave situation


Women walk past tombstones at the cemetery of Casabermeja, southern Spain, on Oct. 31, 2011, the eve of all Saints' Day. Spaniards celebrate the Catholic holiday on Nov. 1, visiting tombstones of relatives and paying their respects to the dead.



A municipal cemetery in Zaragoza city, Spain, has placed stickers on thousands of gravestones to notify relatives that their loved ones will be dug up and moved to a common burial area unless they settle their bill with the graveyard, the Associated Press reported.

The Torrero cemetery, like many in Spain, leases gravesites for five or 49 years at a time, and 7,000 of its sites have lapsed leases, the AP reported. The graves that got stickers have leases that lapsed 15 or more years ago.

Jose Abadia, deputy urban planning manager for northern Zaragoza city, told the AP that it takes about six months to find relatives to reup or cancel their leases. To speed up that process, the cemetery decided to place stickers on graves right before All Saints' Day on Nov. 1, a Catholic holiday on which many families pay their respects to the dead by visiting relatives at cemeteries.

Abadia told the AP that the cemetery is running out of land for new graves, and the initiative is designed to make sure families want to continue leasing their space. “We’re not doing it to make money or empty graves but rather to improve management,” he said.

More from GlobalPost: Kenya: Nairobi runs out of space to bury its dead