A Short Guide on General Funeral Etiquette and Some Funeral Traditions in Selected Parts of the World
Every culture has its own set of funeral customs and practices. It’s very important for funeral attendees to observe proper funeral etiquette to avoid being perceived as someone who is disrespectful to the dead. Funeral etiquette will depend on the deceased person’s culture including his religion. Anyone who knows or is related to the dead person are free to go the wake unless there is a request that prohibits non-relatives from attending.
During public viewings, the dead person’s casket is usually open and his photos are placed near his casket. However, if relatives asked funeral directors to keep the casket close, it will be impossible for guests to view the dead. Guest books are signed by the attendees in order for the relatives to tally the number of visitors. They also use them to know the people who attended the funeral.
Flowers are usually sent in funeral homes to express sympathy, but when attending Jewish funerals, it is not appropriate to send flowers for the dead. Jewish people believe that flowers are more appropriate for happy events. They usually prefer having simple funerals. At Hindu funerals, flowers are used to decorate the deceased person’s body. As for Catholic funerals, attendees give mass cards to the dead person’s relatives. Mass cards inform relatives that there’s a mass that will honour their deceased loved one’s life.
Aside from flowers and cards, money is also given to relatives during wakes. Japanese people practice giving “koden” or condolence money at funerals. They put the money inside envelopes with black and white ribbons. The Chinese people also give money to the deceased person’s relatives to help them pay for the funeral costs. The money is placed inside a white envelope and it is later dropped inside a donation box. Prayers and chants are also important for the dead. People normally do them to ensure that the dead’s soul will reach heaven or be happy in the afterlife.
As for the clothes that should be worn, it is not really required to wear black when attending funerals. As much as possible, wear semi-formal clothes like buttoned shirts. However, if you will attend a Chinese funeral, it is not appropriate to wear red-colored clothes in funeral homes. The deceased person is also not allowed to be dressed in red. In some cultures, the relatives keep the belongings of their deceased loved one, but in Chinese funeral traditions, all the clothes worn by the dead are normally burned.
When it comes to observing proper funeral etiquette, people should also be more careful when bringing children inside funeral homes. It’s very important to inform them first before bringing them in those establishments. Some children may cause commotions and that can suggest that you’re disrespecting the dead people and their relatives.
Some societies view food as something essential during funerals. Chinese people normally set up altars during funerals. They place food on them to ensure that the deceased is well fed before going to the afterlife. They usually put fruits and vegetables. Eating in funerals is also practiced by some cultures. Some funeral parlours even have facilities where people can eat. Greeks and Filipinos normally share their snacks at funerals.
Americans, on the other hand, eat after a funeral service. Unfortunately, some American states prohibit serving and bringing food in funeral homes for sanitary reasons. If you are planning to bring food in a funeral home, research on your state’s policies regarding funeral food first.
When attending funerals, it’s always necessary to follow the requests of the dead person’s relatives. It’s one way of showing care to them.