Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Day 1345: Memento Mori

In the Victorian Era, there was a phrase, "Memento Mori," which reminded people to "live life to the fullest, as everyone is mortal." 

Of course, it's also the name of a little shop just a stone's throw from The Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, and little did I know that there's really more behind the name of this shop than we might initially realize. 

While sitting quietly in my fiction workshop course today (although, we're usually not quiet at all), I was more than a bit surprised when the term "Memento Mori" came up in discussion. The short story we'd been ready had a reference to the idea and the term, which, of course, led to further discussion, since a "Memento Mori" was also known as a photograph...of the dead. 

I won't share any specific pictures here, but if you want to check out some for yourself, you can do so HERE, and really I'm not sure you'll be able to fully grasp the concept until you check out at least a couple of the pictures. Either way, with the art of photography quickly growing, but still too expensive for most to afford, the picture of a deceased family member may be the only opportunity for them to preserve the memory. In the early days of this post-mortem photography, the deceased were often posed to look as though they were still alive, which, honestly, gives the whole idea a pretty creepy feel. 

As for the store at Magic Kingdom, you won't find any post-mortem pictures, but you can get your own photograph taken, which changes from your mortal state to the afterlife faster than you can say "Boo." The shop, according to The Disney Parks Blog, is also known as the former home of Madame Leota, who disappeared, although her belongings still reside in the shop along with a portrait of her...before death. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the shop's name was officially inspired by a gravestone found in the graveyard scene inside The Haunted Mansion...which was probably inspired by the portraits, or at least the saying, from the Victorian Era. 

So that's your weird fact for the day - that there's a shop (and a tombstone) at Magic Kingdom based off an old tradition to take pictures of people after they died. Do what you will with this information - share it with friends, dive deep into Victorian Era history, or, you know, take it to the grave. 

Have a magical day!