Rest in peace is a common enough expression. Everyone knows what it means, and why someone would say it. And they certainly know where the resting place is located; that being the local cemetery. But what may not be known, is not so very long ago, people gathered in graveyards to also dine and visit with family and friends.
Across the United States, in the 19th century, people liked to gather at their family property in town cemeteries, and have picnics. Municipal parks were still a thing of the future, so the verdant, shady, and flowering cemetery was the place of choice for outdoor family meals and social activity.
It became a common sight to see Victorian era ladies, shielded from the sun with parasols, on the arm of a gentleman, strolling along paths lined with tombstones and grave-sites, on their way to lunch at the family burial lot. During those days, death was an issue families dealt with frequently, as epidemics of cholera and yellow fever spread across the country. In the cemetery, families who had been ravaged by the dark visitor could dine, speak about, and with their dearly departed.
The fad continued into the 20th century, but began to fade by the 1920s. Municipal parks became a popular and integral part of every community across the country, and offered a much less melancholy place to celebrate an outdoor family meal.
Today, most cemeteries have policies prohibiting picnics. It is an activity of a bygone era; one which served a purpose then, but no longer remembered, nor needed. Now, fortunately, parks located throughout any US town offer facilities for picnics and recreation, while cemeteries provide peace and quiet, wherein those who are buried can truly rest in peace.