Asian and Chinese Funeral Flowers

What flowers are appropriate for an Asian funeral?

In the UK, sending flowers to a funeral service is a common way to express condolences and offer comfort to the family of the departed. However, funeral etiquette can change depending on the culture or religion, so it is important to bear this in mind when choosing flowers for a funeral. You will want to send flowers that align with the customs and beliefs of the deceased and their family, so try to familiarise yourself with the specific traditions and practices of their community, so that your flowers convey a respectful and empathetic message. 

For example, in most Asian cultures, sending flowers to a funeral is considered appropriate, but this can change depending on the type and colour of the flowers. The colour of the flower is extremely important, as different colours can hold different meanings - for most cultures, sending white flowers is considered a safe option. Additionally, Asian cultures are hugely diverse, and encompass a wide range of nationalities and religions, so it is important to be aware of and respect the unique traditions and beliefs of the deceased. 

Asian Funeral’s: Specific Cultures

To help you navigate the different customs and traditions surrounding funeral etiquette in Asian cultures, we have put together some tips for selecting the right floral arrangements to convey your condolences. These tips will ensure that your flowers are both appropriate and respectful, and convey your sympathy in the most meaningful way possible: 

Chinese funeral customs

In Chinese culture, the symbolism of colour is crucial - this includes the colour of funeral flowers. The most popular choices are lilies and chrysanthemums, particularly in white, as these are traditionally associated with death and grief. Sending white roses would also be considered appropriate.  

It is essential that you avoid sending red flowers to a Chinese funeral, as this colour is associated with joy, happiness and celebration. Sending flowers in this colour could come off as disrespectful to the bereaved.  

Korean funeral customs

Similar to Chinese culture, the colour white represents death and mourning, and is therefore an appropriate flower colouring for funerals - consider choosing white or yellow chrysanthemums. The same with red being inappropriate. 

However, in Korean culture, it is not common for individuals to send bouquets of flowers to funerals. Instead, businesses and organisations will usually send sympathy wreaths, often in the form of large flower arrangements with ribbon. If you still wish to send a sympathy gift, it is more traditional to send money to the family of the deceased. 

Japanese funeral customs

Similar to Korean culture, flowers are not a common practice in Japanese funeral customs. If flowers are used, they are typically chosen by the immediate family, to decorate the casket or graveside. However, ‘koden’ is the more common way of expressing sympathy in Japanese culture. This is a monetary gift given to assist with funeral expenses. If you still wish to send flowers, you can send ‘hanawa’, which is a large funeral wreath with the sender’s name on it. These wreaths are typically burned alongside the deceased. For specific flower choices, lilies and chrysanthemums in white or yellow are the most appropriate option. 

South Asian funeral customs

In South Asian culture, the customs surrounding funeral flowers can vary widely due to the diversity of religions and traditions.

  • Hinduism is one of the most common religions in South Asia. When attending a funeral, it is not traditional to bring flowers with you or send flowers directly to the funeral. Instead, garlands will be offered to the deceased. You will still likely see flowers at the funeral, but similar to Japanese culture, these will have been chosen as decorations by the immediate family. If you still wish to send sympathy flowers to the family of the deceased, you can send it directly to their home, however it is important that you wait until after the funeral to do this. 
  • In Muslim culture, the specific beliefs of the family will determine the appropriateness of sending sympathy flowers. So, it would be best to check with a religious leader or directly ask the funeral home to determine whether or not flowers would be acceptable. If deemed appropriate, keep the flowers simple and choose lighter colours, like white or yellow. 
  • In Buddhist culture, white lilies, chrysanthemums, carnations, and other light-coloured floral arrangements are generally accepted at funerals. The colour white is associated with mourning, so would be the ideal choice when sending flowers to the deceased’s family. Again, it is vital that you avoid sending any type of red flower, or even gift of food, as these are considered poor funeral etiquette.  

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