Diverse Traditions

Traditions vary within the Chinese culture depending on where the deceased person and his family are from, but there are basic and universal traditions through the people. Age, social status, marital status and cause of death impacts the Chinese funeral and burial rights.

Within the Chinese culture, cremation is uncommon. Chinese burial customs are the most important of its traditions. It is believed that if the burial is carried out incorrectly, the family of the deceased will be cursed with disaster and bad luck.

The younger family members are responsible for preparing the funeral arrangements for their elders. This custom gets roots from the Confucian Principle of filial piety, devotion to one’s parents.

The family of the deceased refer to the Chinese Almanac to determine when they should perform the Chinese funeral ceremony. When preparing the body and coordinating funeral rites, the family is assisted by funeral homes or local temples.

White funeral invitations are sent to guests.  For those who lived until they were 80 or beyond, a prink invitation is sent. Instead of mourning, it is customary to celebrate a person’s longevity, if they lived more than 80 years. Within the invitation information about the funeral is included, as is a brief obituary. The invitation may include information about the deceased life, serving family members, and their family tree.

The Funeral

The funeral begins with the wake. The wake may be held at the family’s home, a local temple (depending upon the deceased relation), or a funeral home. The wake may last several days.

An overnight vigil his held for at least one night. Pictures, flower, and candles are placed on the body, and the family sits in wait. Elaborate flower wreaths with couplets containing writings are white envelops filled with cash are given to the deceased family during the wake.

white and yello w chrysanthemum

White and yellow chrysanthemums as well as Iris’ are traditional funeral flowers. White symbolizes lamentation and grief. It is a color observed for death in the Chinese culture. The amount of money placed in the envelope depends on the relationship between the deceased and surviving loved one. However, any amount placed must be an odd number. The money helps the family pay for the funeral. With a funeral benefit plan like Panama, the family does not need to count on these gifts, because they are already covered.

Joss paper is burned by the family to ensure that their loved one journeys safely to the new world. Likewise, miniature houses, televisions, cars and fake paper money are burned. A eulogy is given and if the deceased was religious prayers are offered.

A red envelope with a coin is given to guests, to protect them, ensuring that they return home safely. Additionally, a handkerchief and a piece of candy m to ay be given. The guests should consume the candy the day before traveling home.  The red envelope with a coin and the handkerchief should not be taken home. A piece of red thread may be given. The threads should be tied to the guests’ front doorknobs when they arrive home, to ward off evil spirits.

A band resembling a marching band leads the funeral procession which takes place at the cemetery or crematorium. Loud music is played to frightened spirits and ghosts.  Dressed in mourning clothes, the family walks behind the band. A hearse containing the coffin follows behind the family. The coffin is adorned with a large portrait of the deceased. The rest of the funeral procession follows behind the hearse.  The decision of cremation or burial depends upon personal preferences.

The Funeral Procession

The funeral processions size depends upon the economic wealth of the deceased and their family. The deceased children wear black and white and walk in the front line of the procession. Daughters-in-law follow the children and wear black and white. The grandchildren wear blue mourning clothes. Mourners wear somber clothing. Bright and colorful clothing area voided during the mourning period. The family may hire professional mourners to wail and cry during the procession.

After the Funeral

After the funeral, mourners will wear a cloth band on their arms. If the deceased is a woman, the band is pinned to the right sleeve. If the decease is a man, the band goes on the left sleeve. The mourning band is work for duration of the mourning period which can last between 49 to 100 days. The family members are expected to visit the gravesite annually on the Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Festival.