Timeless Traditions Tear Bottles
The history of the tear bottle is captivating and poignant. Legends of tear bottles or lachrymatories abound in stories of Egypt and middle eastern societies. Tear bottles were prevalent in ancient Roman times, when mourners filled small glass vials with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of love and respect.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, the notion of collecting tears in a bottle appears in Psalm 56:8 when David prays to God, “Thou tellest my wanderings, put thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy Book?” David’s words remind us that God keeps a record of human pain and suffering and always remembers our sorrows.
Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles ornately decorated with silver and pewter. The mourning period would end when the tears evaporated from the bottle.
Tear bottles today are given to symbolize joy and love for others’ important rites of passage. Births, adoptions, graduations, and weddings are occasions where a lasting gift like a beautiful tear bottle will surprise and delight loved ones. During times of sadness, such as illness or death, a tear bottle or lachrymatory is especially meaningful and can express deep sympathy to loved ones. Some women choose to use the bottles; others give them as purely symbolic gifts.