Gravediggers aren’t normally acknowledged for their skill, but eastern Europe’s funeral industry wants to pay homage to the funeral industry's unsung heroes. Yesterday, the Associated Press reports, laborers competed in an international grave digging tournament in Trencin, Slovakia, sponsored by the third International Exhibition of Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services.
Ten two-member teams from Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary competed to dig the fastest and neatest coffin-sized pit, using only shovels and picks. No modern tools were allowed, and each grave had to measure exactly 5 feet deep, 6.5 feet long, and 3 feet wide.
"This whole exhibition is about getting groups of funeral companies together," said event spokesman Christian Striz, as quoted by the AP. "It's all about showing people how hard" the gravedigging profession is (and since Striz was reportedly dressed like the Grim Reaper, how funny it can be, too).
In Slovakia, gravediggers are a necessity. "Most Slovak graveyards are so crowded and spaces between graves so narrow that we need human diggers instead of machines," Ladislav Striz, the contest’s founder, told Reuters. "They work hard, come rain, come snow."
Two brothers from Slovakia—Ladislav Skladan, 43, and Csaba Skladan, 41—took home the grand prize. According to The Guardian, the siblings dug their grave in only 54 minutes, and a five-member jury declared their work to be the neatest.
“I am happy we won,” Csaba Skladan said. “It’s a satisfaction after 15 years in this job.”
[h/t Associated Press]