Death is never pretty but people around the world try to make it as pleasant and as bearable as possible with certain customs that they do. These often include funeral flowers which are used in all kinds of ways. It is interesting to note that many religions and cultures, although very different, have this thing in common when it comes to saying their final farewell to loved ones.
Many people still prefer the modern way of sending funeral flowers using a flower shop, but many places still value their traditional funeral customs. Mind you, there are some really strange ones as well. Hanging coffins in the Philippines and burial beads in Korea are a prime example.
But we are here to talk about flower funeral rituals!
Rituals related to funeral flowers go back all the way to ancient times and the Egyptians who used to place flowers in tombs of pharaohs. Today, the idea behind funeral flowers is generally the same but it only depends on how one does it.
Here are a few interesting examples.
The Lei on Hawaii
You are probably familiar with how a Lei looks. It is a garland made of flowers traditionally used in Hawaii for various rituals. Although the majority of ways that the Lei is used is connected with happier and more positive things, it also has its usage for mourning.
After a person has died in Hawaii a wreath is placed over a photo of the deceased person and the coffin. Sometimes, family members and friends put a Lei in a place that was important to the deceased or they simply cast it away in the water. Mourners would wear a Lei during a funeral and the family members of the deceased will place a garland over each person who attends the burial ceremony.
A burial Lei is often made out of flowers of a Hala tree, native to Hawaii, but some other tropical flowers and orchids can be used as well.
Money and Chrysanthemums in Japan
During Buddhist burial rituals in Japan, it is often necessary to equip a person for their journey in death. Actually, since Buddhists believe in reincarnation, the idea is to give them everything that they will need for the journey ahead.
The dead are often dressed well and besides certain trinkets are given money which goes in the coffin with them. This will be used to pay for their crossing Sanzu River on their way to their next life.
As far as flowers go, Chrysanthemums are used and they even go alongside cremation rituals. Besides Chrysanthemums, lilies can be used but they all have to be white or yellow. These types of flowers are associated with death in Japan and other brighter colors are considered taboo during funeral ceremonies.
Tequila and Flowers in Mexico
The belief in Mexico is that the soul of the dead person will live on. They organize a wake at their homes where family and friends come to visit and give their last respect. The coffin is displayed and people bring drinks and food as gifts but more importantly – flowers.
This would sometimes last for a few days. Flowers are also necessary for the church ceremony that comes after and it also includes incense, candles, and prayer.
But the most important celebration in Mexico comes on November 1 and 2, called the Day of the Dead or Dias de los Muertos. Locals use the Cempoalxochitl flower, also called the flower of the dead, to give respect to the souls of the people they want to remember. They put flowers alongside other offerings such as bread and tequila. Finally, they light a candle while the fragrance of the flower guides the soul of the deceased to the afterlife.