The origins of the phrase ‘carried out feet first’ highlight another funeral superstition that has very practical origins. The phrase is used to express the idea that someone is so dedicated to something they will only give it up when they are dead, referencing the common practise of transporting a body feet first. There are many reasons to carry a body feet first, not least because the head end is heavier and harder to manoeuvre.

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Ignoring the practical difficulties involved in carrying a body, there is also something symbolic in the idea that the feet are leading the way, as if walking, to another world. And superstition says that bodies should leave a house feet first so that the corpse cannot look back. The fear is that the spirit of the deceased may catch the eye of a living inhabitant and beckon them over to the other side.

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