What Are Tear Bottles?
Tear bottles, also called tear catchers or tear vials, are small glass bottles that are used to collect and store a person’s tears. These tears could be tears of sorrow, loss and pain, or tears of celebration, love and joy. The practice of collecting tears in a bottle is called lachrymatory and has been practiced since around 1,000 BCE.
The History of Roman Tear Bottles
In ancient Rome and Greece, people who were mourning the death of a loved one would collect their tears and put them into a tear vial which would sometimes be buried with their love one’s body. This was considered a moving symbol of love to the deceased person as well as being a way to help heal the grief of loss and honor the legacy of that person’s life. Roman homes were sparse and families typically had few ornaments or trinkets in their home, so a Roman tear bottle was especially treasured by a family.
Tear catcher bottles were also used in the Middle East at least 3,000 years ago. This tradition still continues to this day and many craftsmen still hand make tear bottles in that region of the world.
Tear Bottles in the Bible
The Bible also makes a brief reference to tear bottles. In Psalm 56:8 in the Old Testament, David is praying and says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” While this reference is metaphorical, it also has a real physical meaning in addition to the symbolic meaning. Essentially, David is saying that God knows and keeps track of all our pain and suffering in life, which is symbolically referred to as “your book”. “Your bottle” is both a symbolic and a literal way of collecting our tears and handing over our pain and sorrow to God. It’s a beautiful tradition that continues all over the world today.
Victorian Tear Catchers
Victorians loved solemnity and grandeur and the tradition of lachrymatory experienced a revival in popularity during this time. Victorian society, especially upper-class society, was governed by strict social rules and codes of conduct. Elaborate rituals were developed for simple everyday tasks and the social graces were hugely important in polite society.
In keeping with the fashions of the time, Victorians produced ornate tear bottles intricately decorated with floral and other patterns. These bottles were finished with rims and bases carved from gold, silver and pewter. The Victorians also pioneered another addition to the tear bottle legacy: a bottle cap which enabled the tears collected inside to slowly evaporate, symbolizing grief leaving the mourner. When all the tears had evaporated from the bottle, it meant that the mourning period was over.
Lachrymatory Bottles During the American Civil War
While historians debate whether this is actually true, some historical records show that the wives of soldiers during the American Civil War would collect the tears they shed while missing their husbands into small bottles. When their husbands returned from the war, the women would show the tear bottles to their husbands as a way of showing how much they were missed.
Also, if a woman heard the tragic news that her husband had died in battle, she would cry into tear catchers as a way to mourn and have a symbolic representation of her love for her husband.
The Contemporary Tear Bottle Revival
The ancient tradition of tear catching continues to this day. Tear catchers are popular gifts to celebrate birthdays, relationships, weddings, anniversaries and new babies. They are unique symbols of love and represent tears of joy and celebration. Also, tear bottles are popular grieving gifts when a loved one has died.
Our store Tear Catcher Shop has a beautiful selection of hand-made tear bottles for all occasions and circumstances. Skilled artisans craft each unique bottle to perfection with the highest quality hand-blown glass.
Because they are hand-blown, each tear drop bottle is as unique as the person whose tears it protects. They are made from the highest quality glass and hand-carved with gold, silver, pewter or bronze rims. We have tear bottles for partners, children, parents and others who have left us too soon. A hand-made tear bottle is the perfect symbol of love, loss and sorrow and is a permanent representation of how that special person touched your soul.
Our tear catchers come in three different styles: Roman, Victorian and Contemporary.
These beautiful symbols of love are 100% American-made by a 100% American-owned family business. We pack our tear bottles with loving care to ensure safe shipping.
Our Roman Tear Bottles
Our Roman tear bottles are inspired by the ornate and stunning designs found in ancient Roman architecture, furniture and other fantastic archaeological finds.