What flowers are appropriate for an Asian funeral?

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

With flowers for 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 traditional flowers for Asian funerals when honoring Chinese, Korean and Japanese customs.

Flowers for Asian Funerals: Specific Cultures

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. According to most traditions, Chinese culture recognizes them as funeral flowers. Roses are acceptable but only in white.

Korean

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

Japanese

Red in Asian Funeral Flowers

In general, do not use the color red when sending flowers for Asian funerals. Red is typically considered to be a happy color and not appropriate for the occasion.

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 given to help alleviate funeral expenses. Large funeral wreaths called “hanawa” may also be sent. These are customarily burned along with the body.

Flowers for Asian Funerals: Keep the religious customs in mind.

>>Learn more about funeral customs

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

  • Buddist: We recommend that you check with the family to confirm that flowers are being accepted. If so, white is the traditional color of mourning. Red is associated with joy and is not appropriate.
  • Hindu: Flowers are an important part of the Hindu funeral tradition, but it is not 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 flowers for Asian funerals, 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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