There is nothing harder in life than losing someone dear to you. Death is something that can’t be escaped so we should use our lives to the maximum while we are alive. When visiting a grave of someone who passed away or when trying to express condolences to the family of the deceased, it is important to follow certain rules when it comes to flowers which are acceptable. Not all flowers can be taken to graves because there are some written and unwritten rules of behavior.
The rules are different in different countries and if you want to be respectful to the family and the deceased, it is good to follow them. Flower symbolism was developed for hundreds of years and people from various cultures saw certain flowers in a different way. Not all flowers are the same and not all the flower colors are acceptable. Flower symbolism survived for hundreds of years and was transferred from generation to another over the years.
Funerals were always a special way to say goodbye to someone we love and to pay our last respect to this person. Funerals today and in the past were always lavish and people gave their last penny to honor the person who died no matter how rich they were. It is the same today, and funerals are touchy, sentimental events that usually cause our emotions to come out.
Today, we are going to discuss the symbolic meaning of flowers used for condolences and for funerals. So, if you are interested in finding out more, here is your chance to do that.
Funeral tradition in the world
Before we get started talking about the flowers, here are some examples of funeral traditions from the world. Some of them are well-known while others can be even a little bit scary. According to the Christian belief and teaching of the church, death is the transition from the earthly, temporary life into the eternal spiritual life. From the perspective of Western civilization some of them look like a product of the barbarian mind while others fascinate with creativity and ingenuity. These are just some of the most fascinating ways in which people around the world try their deceased ones or have once tried to return to an idle hunting ground, and their souls provide peace.
That is why every Christian his whole life prepares for this transition. Every person, for life, determines where he wants to be buried, and when he comes to old age, he prepares with his family or friends everything that is needed for the burial of a Christian.
Death and the afterlife fascinated people since the beginnings of civilization. The fear of hell bastards and the desire to move to paradise, Valhalla or some other similar destination contributed to the development of peculiar funeral traditions. Today, in most of the world, there is practice of deceased burial in graves, single or family, or cremation.
Yet that was not always the case, and what is even more interesting is that such practices are drastically different today in some parts of the world.
There is a widespread idea of a traditional Viking funeral, which includes the body of a deceased with a weapon placed in a boat floating on a canal while his fellow warriors fluttered with flaming arrows until he was turned into dust. Though it sounds dramatic and perhaps even romantic, it would be very expensive and impractical today, and not exactly true.
It is true that the Vikings were people of the sea, but what science can confirm is that their funeral traditions differs considerably from the one described above. They were plundered together with property in large holes, formed in the form of ships and encased in stones. Men wore weapons in the other world and women’s jewelry.
If a deceased was a head warrior or a great warrior, his wife would, after his death, be passed on among his tribe members to show her love (or, according to today’s critics, raped). At last he would stumble and lay beside the deceased wife. This practice, fortunately, has not been practiced for a long time.
Some North American tribes before their first contact with the white people after the death of the deceased were thrown into huge open holes near the village where their remains would be available to wild animals. On the other hand, if the deceased was a warrior, shaman or chief of things, things were different.
His body would be hit with bats to fit into the wooden boxes of today’s hand luggage. After that, the boxes would be embedded in the top of the totem. Totem would have the role of guardian of spirit on the way to the next world. Some of the first missionaries in this part of the world have stated in their notes that a terrible stench spread around the place. Today, this practice is illegal.
Vajrayana tribe who are Buddhists who mostly inhabit Mongolia and Tibet believe that human souls are still alive after death. In other words, they believe the soul is leaving, and the body remains empty. To bring it back to Earth, the priest puts the body and remains on the top of the hill or open meadow, leaving it to grace and helplessness. This method of forgiving the dead has been in practice for many years, but according to the latest research it is still selected by 80 percent of Tibetans.
An unusual tradition of burning bodies has been happening for a long time on the island of Balia. As strange as it sounds, the islanders are really entertained during the procession, Miguel Covarrubias wrote in 1937 in his travelogue describing the aforementioned tradition. He attended the funeral of the then royal family leader.
During this time, thousands of volunteers gathered around a gigantic platform made of bamboo on which they were a wooden bull and a dragon to carry it. After a long procession, Suyasino’s body was laid in the interior of a wooden bull and the entire structure was burned to make the body of the deceased easier to find a new body.
One of the Madagascar tribes has a renowned ritual called famadhana or a translation of the bones. Every five to seven years, the family during the big celebration of the deceased’s bone is taken out of the crypt, moved to them with popcorn and perfumes. Live music follows this ritual, and eventually the family members dance with the body or what remains of it.
There are many different ethnic groups in the Philippines who cherish different funeral traditions. Among the multitude of peculiar customs, special mention is made of the Apayo people who usually bury the remains underneath their kitchens.
In Asia, her dead loved to keep close to people which is proved with what happened in Korea in recent years. If we believe in The Week reporters, a new trend has emerged in the southern part of this far-eastern peninsula. The law introduced in 2000 stipulates that all those who have buried their loved ones must be removed from the tombs after 60 years due to lack of space. As a reaction to this is the rise of the popularity of crematoriums.
Condolence and Funeral Flowers – Meaning
There are millions of different types of flowers in the world, but some flowers carry a special meaning and are used only for certain occasions. Flowers for the cemetery are grown for funerals, the celebration of All Saints, Christmas and other holidays and anniversaries.
On such sad occasions, the relationship with the deceased, as well as with the grieving family is expressed. Along with the funeral flowers in the cemetery, people usually wear flowers for the last greeting and remembrance. The most common flowers for funerals and condolences are calla lily and lilies – they symbolize the departure of a soul to another world or innocence if a person dies young. In addition, roses, orchids, gerberas and Margareta are used for condolences. The type of flowers and colors will depend on the gender and years of the deceased person. It is therefore appropriate for women to choose red, green, pink or orange tones of flowers, and for men wearing blue, brown, green and red tones.
The celebration of All Saints has been celebrated since the 4th century, and it is a commemoration to all martyrs. This celebration is being held in different religions, and it is marked by recalling our loved ones who are no longer with us. In the church, the memorial of all the faithful dead or the Soul Day is marked the day later, November 2. There are cemeteries on this day and flowers are taken for the graveyard and lanterns are lit on the cemetery because it becomes a place of gratitude and remembrance.
All the sacred flowers that are worn on the cemetery are: chrysanthemums, roses, orchids, Margareta and ornamental kegs. These are the plants most commonly found in arrangements for All Saints. Chrysanthemum has a special symbolism because it represents regret, transience and remembrance, and it is especially interesting because it blooms exclusively in the first days of November.
Yellow chrysanthemums represent love and white sincerity. The yellow color of flowers is one that arouses the feeling of happiness and joy and is a symbol of friendship. The white color of flowers signifies purity, peace, and symbol of innocence, spirituality, and holiness. Orange bouquets represent energy and warmth. The pink colored flowers on the cemetery represent elegance, youth, innocence and happiness. Red color symbolizes passion, beauty and courage.
Christmas and New Year holidays are a time for giving, but also a special remembrance of our loved ones who are not with us anymore. In addition to the usual Christmas ornaments as a flower for the cemetery and advent wreath be worn. Four candles on it mark four divisions in human history – creation, embodiment, redemption, and end. Advent and New Year arrangements can be decorated with ornamental kale, berries and cones.
There are also many interesting legends following certain flower sorts that are actually a great back story for everyone interested in finding out more about the origin of certain flowers. The birth of different types of flowers dates back to ancient times, so with some species there are many interesting legends.
The legend of Carnation flower says that Artemide goddess was coming back from a celebration with Zeus and Latony and saw that the flute player was scaring and displeasing all animals with his sounds. She got very angry at him and shot him. After that, she felt sorry and repentance and sought Zeus to turn him into a red flower. For this reason, carnations are often referred to as the flower of Zeus, a wise and powerful god.
Legend about roses is also very interesting. Aphrodite had a lover whom she loved very much in the old Greek tradition. He was a passionate hunter. One day he decided to go hunting though she begged him not to go, as if she knew he would die in the hunt. After some time he did not return, Aphrodite started to look for him. She found him lying dead on sharp rocks and asked Zeus to revive him. He could not do it, but he decided to return to life every three months every year. In the end, he decided that from each of his bloody drops blood would come out of a beautiful flower – a rose.
In ancient Greece, lilies were dedicated to Hera, the queen of heaven, marriage and offspring. It was believed that the lilies were born out of the drops of her milk that fell to the ground while she was breast-feeding Hercules. The legend also says some of the drops fell to the sky and the Milky Way came from them. This is a skillful and paradisiacal flower and represents beauty, happiness, immortality and salvation. It is a symbol of the purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary because one legend says that three days after the burial in the tomb her body disappeared, only the magnificent bouquet of lilies was there.
Condolence and Funeral Flowers – Symbolism
Each flower has its own symbolism in the language of flowers. When taking a flower to the cemetery, it is important to know this meaning and symbolism in order to be respectful to the dead:
- Peony flower is a symbol of honor and wealth. This flower can be taken to cemetery since it sends such a strong message.
- Hortensia flower is a symbol of cordiality.
- Calla lily is a symbol of elegance and luxury.
- Carnation flower symbolizes several things depending on the color. These meanings are rejection, depravity, talent, fascination and female love.
- Chrysanthemum is a symbol of love, romance or sincerity.
- Lily flower is a symbol of luck, yellow, innocence and purity.
- Mimosas flower is a symbol of kindness.
- Tulip flower symbolizes unhappy love, love, and beautiful eyes.
- Iris flower symbolizes hope and faith, but also passion.
- Narcissus flower symbolizes contempt.
- Rose flower is a symbol of love, passion and romance.
- Sunflower flower is a symbol of worship, communion and pride.
- Gerbera flower is a symbol of purity.
- Lavender flowers symbolize distrust.
- Orchid’s flowers symbolize enthusiasm, love and beauty.
- Hyacinth flower symbolizes stamina.
Condolence and Funeral Flowers – Colors
When it comes to colors, they can have an importance as well. depending on a certain color of the flower, symbolism of the flower can turn into something completely different so it is good to know the meanings of certain flower colors and whether they are meant for the funerals and condolences or not. We are going to mention few of the most common flower sorts that are usually taken to graves and given as a symbol of condolence for the family of the deceased.
Lilies – Lily flowers are suitable as condolence flowers and funeral flowers and you can take them to the grave of someone dear to you. The white lily is especially important since it represents sympathy and purity. This is a flower you can take to someone’s grave, if this person was younger since they are symbols of innocence and purity.
Gladioli flowers – These flowers are also suitable for funerals and condolences. They are symbols of strength, sincerity and morality. These flowers can be given in many color shades, since all of them carry one strong message of the Gladioli flowers and that is sincerity. This symbolism is the most important one when it comes to funerals and saying to someone that you are sorry for their loss.
Carnations – These flowers are symbol of admiration but also love and innocence. You can take any color of carnation flowers to the grave of someone you loved, because they all express the same message of love and honest condolence.
Chrysanthemum – This flower has a strong symbolic background and it comes in various colors. The Chrysanthemum flower is associated to a sad story about love and loss; therefore it is one of the most common flowers that are taken to graves. In China, Korea and Japan these flowers are symbols of grief for the loved ones and are usually taken to graves. They are also important symbols of death in many other countries such as Italy and Spain.
Roses – Roses are also a great option if you are not sure which flowers to take to a funeral. Roses are symbols of love and romance, but also sympathy so they can always be taken to a funeral. Pink roses symbolize love and appreciation. Dark red ones symbolize grief, yellow ones are symbols of friends and the red ones are symbols of respect and love.
Orchid – Orchid flowers can be taken to a grave of a person who meant a lot to you since these flowers are expressions of love. They are usually taken to funerals of partners and other people who are really close to you.
Spider lily – This flower is also called the Japan’s flower of death. This flower is a symbol of death and grief and it is usually taken o funerals and condolence is usually expressed through them. They come in red color which is a symbol of respect and love. The name is symbolic enough and if in doubt, these flowers are going to express everything you are feeling at that moment for the person who deceased.