Many UK funeral customs and traditions that are still alive and thriving today date back to days of Queen Victoria. It was at this time that society developed strict codes of conduct in regards to how a person life should be celebrated and mourned. Below we have highlighted some of the funeral customs and traditions that are slowly changing with every generation.
Although some of the funeral traditions we inherited from the Victorians are still popular, UK today has a more diverse population with a much wider variety of cultures and faiths.
It is important to remember that in different cultures and faiths, flowers have varying meaning and significance:
In the Orthodox Jewish faith floral tributes are forbidden as is the laying or planting of flowers on graves;
During Hindu funerals women lay flowers at the feet of the body. It is traditional for visitors to the deceased’s relatives to bring gifts of fruit instead of flowers;
Sikh funeral customs permits the sending of flowers;
In Islamic funeral rites it is not appropriate for flowers to adorn the body or to be sent to grieving relatives;
In Chinese custom the white chrysanthemum is a symbol of lamentation, however in the United States it is regarded as a symbol of happiness and cheerfulness;
White is the colour most associated with mourning and flowers, particularly within the Christian tradition, as it is a symbol of Christ’s love.
Men often choose to wear dark suits. Black has long been the colour associated with mourning, as it has connotations of being respectful. It is advised that you choose a predominantly black coloured outfit for the funeral you are attending unless you have not been told otherwise.
More and more people these days ask funeral guests to dress in colours other than black. It is important to fulfil the request as a mark of respect if this is asked of you.
The deceased can either be cremated or buried here in Britain. During a burial service it is customary to throw soil onto the coffin as it is lowered into the ground. Sometimes this ritual is carried out by the funeral director, however family members often perform this ritual instead. As a ritual that is carried out as a symbol of love and remembrance family members often throw things like flowers and personal items onto the coffin. There is also options such as Green burials and internment of a loved ones ashes which are more environmentally friendly.
It is customary to hold a wake after a funeral has taken place in Britain. This event is designed to celebrate the life of the deceased. The wake is usually hosted at the house of the deceased’s immediate family, but it can also be hosted at a local hotel or pub. There is usually plenty of food and drink available for you to help yourself to.
Family members and friends of the person that died usually share fond memories of their loved one. Wakes are can be sad occasions, but they provide a chance for families to reunite and remember the good times.
An announcement of funeral
In the UK it is customary to announce an individuals death of their loved ones (known as an obituary notice) in a local or national newspaper. With the announcement, they often include the funeral details. This gives distant friends and relatives the chance to make arrangements to attend the funeral or send flowers. Most funerals are open to the public, unless the family has requested a private, intimate funeral with immediate family and friends only.
Funerals are undergoing a radical change, with many people viewing them as a celebration of a person’s life, rather than the mourning of their death, some UK customs and traditions are still played out today although more and more individuals choose to combine UK funeral traditions with contemporary elements to create a more personalised service. By pre planning your funeral today, you can ensure that your loved ones have a chance to celebrate the funeral you would want while not having to stress about how they are going to afford your funeral.
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