What Role Does Color Play at a Funeral

Death is one of the only sure parts of life, and as such funeral services are a guaranteed part of every person's life. Whether the services go through funeral homes, a veteran's facility, or through the local church. There are time-honored symbols that are part of any funerary practice. One of those symbols is the color permitted at memorial services.

Back in Black

In American funerals, and in most funerals in the Western world, black is still the most popular color worn today. It's as much a part of a funeral as memorial donations in the form of flowers or funds contributed to a funeral fund. Western funerals have muted colors, often with men and women both wearing layers of black on top of more black. Funeral officiates also tend to wear black, whether it's a suit or a dress. Bright colors are associated with happiness or joy, and black is seen as somber and muted.

The only exception to the rule of black are the decorations found at memorial services; flowers. Whether they're put up on a display in funeral homes or displayed graveside during funeral services, flowers tend to be splashes of color in otherwise dark-colored events. Individual floral bouquets and wreaths can be an important, even symbolic gesture needing much care and forethought.

The Funeral Traditions of Other Cultures

Basic black is not always the order of the day all over the world. Just as every culture has different celebrations for marriage or childbirth, so do different cultures have different funerary rites. In Japan for instance white has been the traditional color associated with death. There are some practices where color and noise are both quite loud, turning death into a celebration rather than a quiet, contemplative march. These traditions would be shocking to Westerners who are more used to quiet speeches, three piece suits, and memorial services. At the same time though the near silent weeping and stillness associated with Western funerals might be seen as confusing, or even disrespectful to other cultures.

Your best bet, check before you attend

Any time someone is going to attend a funeral it's important to check the appropriate dress and color code. If it's a funeral from that person's own culture this can be an easy thing to do. If it's a friend's funeral, or a burial service taking place in a subculture that has very different rules and customs when it comes to sending the dead off into the afterlife then it's better to check and see what would be considered an appropriate form of dress for the event in question.