Flowers have been used at funerals since prehistoric times. Originally this was probably an attempt to disguise the smell of decomposition. Funeral flowers are also considered to be a symbol of the transience of life. Every region of the world and every religion has its own funeral flower traditions.
In most Asian countries, white is the colour of death and mourning. The chrysanthemum, which some believe symbolises the soul, is commonly used for funeral rites. This beautiful, hardy flower originated in China and has many uses. It can be eaten, brewed into tea or powdered to make an insect repellent. It grows in almost any season, and the cut blooms are quite long-lasting. There are literally thousands of varieties.
It is proper to bring white chrysanthemums or lilies to a Chinese funeral, no matter your relationship to the deceased. You can also bring snapdragons, bell flowers, gentian, orchids and even roses. The type of flower is less important than the colour. Bright, bold colours should be avoided, especially red, as this is connected with joyful celebrations of weddings and childbirth. Deep or dark colours should also be avoided. Yellow is all right, as it represents earth, the cycle of life and the balance and harmony of nature. Light or pale colours are preferable.
In the Japanese funeral traditions it is not necessary to bring floral tributes. If you choose to do so and the family is accepting them, you may bring chrysanthemums or any type of flowers. As with Chinese tradition, make sure that your flowers are white, yellow or some soft, pale colour. Yellow in both Japan and China is considered a colour of nobility and respect, and was once allowed only to royalty. If you want to show really traditional respect, you may give a gift of money to help defray funeral costs. Family, friends and co-workers also bring a certain type of large floral wreath called a hanawa. These are actually designed to be cremated along with the body. If you cannot attend the ceremony, do not send flowers, but arrange for a telegram to be sent with a message of sympathy for the family.
Be sure never to use white flowers, ribbons or decorations for anything that does not pertain to death or a funeral. Throughout most of Asia, the colour for weddings and birth celebrations is bright cheery red.
Asia is the home of many religions. Confucians appreciate more elaborate floral tributes for the very old, those who have had many children or have accomplished a great deal in life. Buddhists love the white lotus flower, the symbol of purity. Taoists accept any white flower, and gifts of certain types of food can be made to the deceased’s family. In the Japanese Shinto tradition, flowers decorate the grave and fresh ones brought at least once a week. On certain days throughout the year, graveside services are held and flowers can be brought to these. Islam keeps everything very simple, and donations to a charity are much preferable to flowers. Follow more updates on funeral floral gifts by Bloom2u.