Funeral customs exist to allow family and friends to properly observe the memory of their deceased loved one. Around the world, many funeral customs and traditions exist, whether religious or universally practiced in different places by a unique variety of people across different cultures and religions. Funerals are highly emotionally taxing, and often put pressure on the family and friends attending the occasion. For this reason, practicing proper funeral etiquette is important in order to avoid upsetting or offending the attendees of a funeral.
How Religions Incorporate Flowers into Funeral Customs
Flowers, in particular, are often included in many funeral traditions and customs during each stage of the occasion, such as a wake, cremation, funeral or graveside service. Different religions generally incorporate flowers into funeral services, traditions, and commonly practiced customs.
In Protestant religions, people express sympathy by sending cards and flowers to family homes or funeral homes, as well as attending the funeral itself. Protestant funeral ceremonies focus on the afterlife while celebrating the life of the deceased through remembrances and testimonials. Ministers generally conduct the service and allow family and friends to participate. Many types of flowers may be selected, but most often roses and lilies are utilized.
In Roman Catholic funeral traditions, somber floral arrangements are often sent to the family residence of the deceased or the funeral home. Donations are also gifted to the deceased, usually sent in the name of the deceased to a charity of their choice. Catholics hold a Vigil or wake before the funeral begins. Flowers and candles are used to decorate the wake, funeral service, and the burial grounds. The Funeral Mass or Requiem is performed by a priest in a Catholic church. During the Mass, mourners light candles to celebrate the life of the deceased and bring comfort to the congregation.
At Jewish funerals, flowers are not considered appropriate, but charitable donations are considered appropriate memorial gifts. The funeral service is performed by a rabbi, and the burial happens within a day of the deceased passing away. Funeral attire generally consists of black and other types of dark colored clothing. Men commonly wear a yarmulke, a type of head covering provided by the funeral home. The immediate family of the deceased remains in mourning or Shiva at home for the following seven days. During this time, family, friends and colleagues come to the home and pay respects to the family. Instead of floral gifts, Kosher foods, fruit, and dessert baskets are given to the family during this time.
The traditional flower of Buddhist mourning is a white flower, and they are often sent to the family of the deceased. Food gifts and red flowers are not appropriate gifts for a Buddhist funeral. However, charitable donations to the family or a favored charity are appropriate gifts. During the viewing, incense and candles burn until the body is moved to the crematorium or cemetery where the funeral takes place. A monk conducts the funeral service at a funeral home. Guests at the ceremony are anticipated to bow slightly toward the body as a sign of appreciation for its lessons of impermanence. The grieving family often wears white, while friends are allowed to wear black.
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