The rising use of cremation and cremation urns in the world has very practical and utilitarian reasons, the first of which is economics. Among the many end-of-life choices that families may choose include: cremation and glass cremation urns, burial, interment, cryogenesis, and there is a small esoteric group who are opting for preservation and mummification. While all have their place in history and our future, let's focus on the use and history of cremation and the use of urns for ashes.
Cremation appears first, in wide use, about 3000 B.C. in Europe and the Near East. Scholars agree that much of the early Cremation tradition was probably driven by a desire to elevate the spirit of the lost loved one in a religious or sacred ceremony to the next world or a higher level of existence. The Cremation event freed the spirit from the earthly body, allowing an un-encumbered ascendance to the higher plane.
In the next 500 or so years, Cremation progressed further West and into the Northern Mediterranean regions. Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Northern Italy spawned the use of Cremation Cemeteries in the late Stone and early Bronze periods. A little further down the timeline, Greeks, in the Mycenaean period, utilized Cremation Urns in ceremonies to celebrate the loss of a soldier in battle. While the ceremony was to glorify the life and battles of the warrior class, Cremation and Cremation Urns also served a very practical purpose as an efficient method of how to manage the bodily remains during battles abroad, while storing and memorializing the loss for family and friends at home.
As with many of the Greek traditions, Cremation and the use of Cremation Urns were adopted by the Roman Empire until the 5th Century A.D. when it was almost completely removed as a practice (except as a method of disease control or during war) from the Byzantine era to almost the 20th Century. The 19th and 20th Centuries saw a normalization of the use of Cremation and Cremation Urns as industrial innovation allowed the process to become more standardized, and met with greater social acceptability.
Today, in the early 21st Century, Cremation and the use of Cremation Urns as a memorial, is very common. At the time of this writing, the United States population is using Cremation at a rising rate which is currently estimated at around 35% nationwide. The coastal states are using Cremation and Cremation Urn Memorials at nearly 50% and some estimates have the national rate approaching 70% in the next 20 or so years.