What Are Some Interesting Rituals of Death and Dying in Different Cultures?

What Are Some Interesting Rituals of Death and Dying in Different Cultures?

While rituals of death and dying vary considerably among people within one ethnic or religious culture, some commonalities often exist, including the emphasis on the earth, natural spirit, animals and earth among Native Americans, and the presence of a wake led by a priest among Roman Catholics. While Protestants often prefer donations and flowers as a sign of condolences, people of the Jewish faith typically do not want flowers.

In Native American culture, people must be buried in their homeland to ensure reunification with ancestors and loved ones after their death. In some tribes, pipes are smoked alongside the grave, and it is important to bury people with a symbolic reference to a circle.

People in China often bury a cooked chicken with a deceased person as a last meal for the person who passed away and accompanying spirits. Throughout Asia, a band may join the procession to the cemetery, mourners may burn incense at the graveside, and sometimes sacrifices are made during the funeral.

Many African Americans acknowledge death through the physical manifestation of grief. Often wearing white as a symbol of resurrection and celebrating with music, African Americans and Black people share a meal among loved ones after a wake and funeral.

In the Jewish culture, babies are frequently named after deceased loved ones, though in many cultures, this is considered improper. Many Jewish mourners wear a black pin with a torn ribbon during the funeral and in the week following, while revealing a tombstone on the one-year anniversary of death.