What flowers are appropriate for an Asian funeral?

Asian Funeral FlowersIf you are not familiar with the traditions of Asian cultures, the following etiquette tips will help ensure that the flowers you send impart an appropriate and sympathetic message. It is important to keep in mind that “Asian culture” is not a homogeneous group.  You should always consider the unique religious and cultural traditions and beliefs of the family and the deceased. You should also consider the local customs and practices of the deceased and his or her family.

In Asian funerals, the color of the flower you send can be very significant. White flowers are usually the best and safest choice. However, yellow chrysanthemums are also a traditional funeral flower for those honoring Chinese, Korean and Japanese customs.

Asian Funeral Flowers: Chinese

  • In Chinese cultures, color symbolism is very important. This applies to funeral flowers as well. While fresh cut flowers are appreciated, artificial flowers are also acceptable, particularly if you are traveling a long distance to attend the funeral.
  • Lilys and chrysanthemums are good choices, particularly in white or yellow, since these are traditionally considered to be funeral flowers in Chinese culture. Roses are acceptable but only in white.

Asian Funeral Flowers: Korean

  • Generally, flowers are given by business and organizations. These groups typically send large flower stands with flowing ribbons. You are not obligated to provide flowers. If you do, white chrysanthemums are appropriate.

Asian Funeral Flowers: Japanese

Flowers are not generally a significant element in Japanese funeral culture. If you do choose to send them, however, you should follow proper etiquette. Lilys and chrysanthemums in yellow and white are appropriate choices. In Japanese culture “koden” is a more appropriate sympathy expression than flowers. Koden is a monetary gift that is given to help alleviate funeral expenses. Large funeral wreaths called “hanawa” may also be sent. These are customarily burned along with the body.

If you are aware of the religious affiliation of the deceased, it is wise to confirm the funeral flower customs of that particular religion. Some religions common in Asian cultures are Buddist, Hindu, and Muslim.

  • Buddist: It is always recommended that you check with the family to confirm that flowers are being accepted. If so, white are the traditional color of mourning. Red is considered inappropriate as the color is associated with joy.
  • Hindu: Flowers are an important part of Hindu funeral tradition but it is not generally customary to send them to the family.
  • Muslim: There are conflicting opinions regarding the appropriateness of sending flowers for a Muslim funeral. We suggest that if you would like to send the family a gift of flowers you consult with a religious leader.

If you have any questions or concerns about sending funeral flowers, you should contact the funeral home or a family friend or relative who can provide you with more information. A religious or spiritual advisor for the faith of the deceased can also be a valuable resource in helping you decide if a gift of funeral flowers is appropriate.

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