Tear Bottles hold the tears of grief
A Reminder God keeps count of every tear,
holding them and us in loving care.
Thou hast kept count of my tossings;
Put thou my tears in your bottle.
They were common in Bible lands and also in Egypt, Persia, Rome, and Phoenicia.
One of the oldest references is in Psalm 56:8 Thou hast kept count of my tossings; Put thou my tears in your bottle.
They were used in times of mourning in various ways through the centuries.
Often they were given as a sign of sympathy, a sign that tears of grief were shared. The mourner might keep it as a memento, fill it with tears (at which time some said that one's mourning period was over). Some were put in tombs with the departed. Others said that in a land where water was scarce, that the tears were a sacrifice in honor and respect . In ancient Persia a warrior might return home and check the tear jars to see who had wept most.
In the Civil War times, a tear jar might be given to a returning soldier as a sign of joy, relief and how much he had been missed.
One custom was to have unpainted bottles or to give them. The grieving one then decorated the jar with intricate designs.
The little terra cotta bottles could be as small as one's little finger, but in Victorian times the bottles or jarsmight be as high as 4 inches. These were popular among the wealthy and made of silver or pewter and often worn around the neck.
Today these little bottles are given as a sympathy gift to one who is feeling great sorrow. They are also given as a sign of tears of joy at a time of marriage or birth of a child. One writer reports that one can be given by a mother to her teenage daughter when their tears of strife have turned to joy.
In Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives is a beautiful little Franciscan church called Dominus Flevit, (the cry of the Lord or the Lord wept) . It marks the time when Jesus approached Jerusalem and wept over it. Luke 19:41. The church was designed by anton Barluzzin, Italian architect. It was built in 1954 and is in the shape of a tear drop. Tear jars decorate the corners of the structure.