What is a Sin Eater? Probably considered an unenviable job, sin eaters helped those who had passed away enter Heaven cleansed of sin.
Here is an excerpt of the meal from Atlas Obscura -
When a loved one died in parts of England, Scotland, or Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries, the family would grieve, place bread on the chest of the deceased, and call for a man to sit in front of the body. The family of the deceased watched on as this man, the local professional sin eater, absorbed the sins of the departed’s soul.
The family who hired the sin eater believed that the bread literally soaked up their loved one’s sins; once it was eaten, all the misdeeds were passed on to the hired hand. Once the process was complete, the sin eater’s own soul was heavy with the ill deeds of countless men and women from his village or town.
The sin eater paid a high price to help others drift smoothly into the afterlife: the coin he was given was worth a mere four English pence, the equivalent of a few U.S. dollars today. Usually, the only people who would dare risk their immortal being during such a religious era were the very poor, whose desire for a little bread and drink carried them along.
As early as the 1680s this morbid local feast was written of as an “old Custom at funerals,” and it survived into the early 20th century. According to Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, first published in 1813, the sin eater “sat down facing the door; they then gave him a groat, which he put in his pocket; a crust of bread, which he ate; and a full bowl of ale, which he drank oft’ at a draught; after this, getting up from his stool, he pronounced, with a composed gesture, ‘the ease and rest of the soul departed, for which he would pawn his own soul.”