“Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs; Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet Clear of the grave.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet and philosopher who lived in the 19th century. He was known for his works that focused on nature, spirituality, and individualism. His poem “Hamatreya” celebrates the beauty and power of nature. The poem draws on the imagery of flowers, trees, and other natural elements to create a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the world. At the Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group we agree that flowers are a beautiful way to pay tribute to a loved one and show your condolences. Flowers have long been a traditional and symbolic element of funerals and are often used as a way to express condolences and honour the memory of the deceased. However, there are some cultures that believe that flowers should not be present at funerals or view them as inappropriate or disrespectful:

  • In Jewish culture, it is more common to give a donation to a charity in honour of the deceased or to bring food to the home of the bereaved.
  • In Muslim culture, it is more common to give a donation to a charity or to recite prayers in honour of the deceased.
  •  In Hindu culture, flowers are used in funeral rituals, but it is not traditional to bring large floral arrangements to a funeral. Instead, small, simple floral tributes or garlands may be used.
  • In some Buddhist cultures, flowers are used in funeral ceremonies, but it is not customary to bring large floral arrangements to a funeral.

The use of flowers at funerals dates back centuries, with various cultures and religions incorporating them into their funeral practices in one way or another. In many cultures, flowers are seen as symbols of life, death and rebirth. They are also used to represent the beauty and fragility of life and can be seen as a comforting and peaceful presence during a time of mourning. The symbolism of different flowers can vary depending on the culture and the individual’s beliefs.

In Western culture, lilies are one of the most popular flowers for funerals. They are associated with purity and the restored innocence of the soul of the deceased. White lilies are especially popular for funerals. Roses are another popular funeral flower and can convey different meanings, with red roses symbolising love and respect, white roses symbolising innocence and purity, and pink roses symbolising grace and admiration. Carnations are often used in funeral arrangements due to their longevity and beauty. They are also associated with love and admiration and can be used to express sympathy and remembrance. Chrysanthemums are often associated with death and are often used in funeral arrangements to express sympathy and honour the deceased. Daisies are also used in funeral arrangements as a symbol of innocence and purity. They are often combined with other flowers to create a more diverse and meaningful display.

In African culture, lilies, carnations and roses are also popular, but other specific flowers are sometimes used in funerals. Gladioli are often used in African funerals to represent strength, sincerity, and moral integrity. Agapanthus flowers are seen as a symbol of love, purity, and rebirth, while palm fronds are used to symbolise victory and triumph over death.

In Indian culture, flowers hold a very significant place in funerals as they symbolise respect, love, and condolences. In addition to their symbolic meanings, flowers also serve a practical purpose in the funeral process. They can help to mask the scent of the embalming fluid and can provide a visually comforting element for those attending the funeral. Flowers are also a way to personalise the funeral service and can be chosen based on the individual’s favourite colours, scents, or types of flowers. Like other cultures, roses and chrysanthemums are often included in floral arrangements, but there are other flowers that have special meaning too:

  • Marigold flowers are often used in Indian burials as they represent the sun, and are believed to bring good luck, happiness, and peace to the departed soul.
  • Jasmine flowers are considered to be a symbol of purity, peace, and love in Indian culture. They are often used to decorate the casket or to make garlands for the deceased.
  • The lotus flower is considered to be a sacred flower in Indian culture and is often used in religious ceremonies. It is believed to symbolise the journey of the soul from darkness to light.

In Oriental cultures, the choice of funeral flowers can vary depending on the specific tradition and customs of the culture:

  • In China, white chrysanthemums are a popular choice for funerals, as they are associated with death and are believed to bring good luck and honour to the deceased.
  • In Japan, white lilies, white chrysanthemums, and white carnations are often used for funeral arrangements. These flowers are chosen for their pure, serene beauty and are seen as a symbol of sympathy and respect.
  • In Korea, white flowers such as white chrysanthemums, white lotuses, and white roses are commonly used for funeral arrangements. The colour white is associated with mourning and purity in Korean culture.
  • In Vietnam, flowers such as lotuses, chrysanthemums, and yellow marigolds are commonly used for funeral arrangements. The lotus is considered a symbol of rebirth and purity, while chrysanthemums and marigolds represent sorrow and mourning.

The choice of funeral flowers should be focussed on expressing sympathy and respect for the deceased rather than adhering to specific gender, age, or social status norms. In most cultures, it is customary to leave the funeral flowers and other arrangements at the gravesite or crematorium as a way to honour the deceased. However, after the funeral service, the family could take the funeral flowers and other arrangements home, as a way to remember their loved one. Some families choose to donate the funeral flowers to a hospital, hospice, or nursing home. An acceptable gesture could also be to share the arrangements or individual flowers with friends or family members as a way to remember the deceased.

At Sonja Smith Funeral Group, we are here to assist you in creating a meaningful and personalised tribute to honour the memory of your loved one, whether that includes flowers or another special element. For more information about other issues surrounding funerals or your estate planning, visit our website at https://sonjasmith-funerals.co.za/