Final farewells vary widely among cultures and religions.
Hispanic funerals, for instance, tend to be lively ceremonies that are infused with time-honored traditions and customs. Family and friends typically gather in large numbers and meaningful representations of heritage can be found throughout the funeral process.
Read on to learn more about the many charming and fascinating characteristics of Hispanic funeral traditions.
1. Latino funerals embrace celebrations of life.
The atmosphere is often reminiscent of a party in honor of the departed. The mood tends to festive and it is not unusual for the wake or viewing period to last for many hours. Guests gather to share laughs, play music, and dine on traditional delicacies like tamales and pan dulce. For those who are devout Catholics, the ambiance is reserved and visitation tends to be a sacred vigil filled with scripture readings, quiet reflection, and prayers.
2. Religion is front and center.
Many Latino families have a religious affiliation to the Catholic Church, which influences much of the culture including funeral traditions. While not all Hispanics are Catholic, religion, in general, remains a central fixture for this population. Prayer and worship are important elements of death rituals so many families choose to adorn the departed with religious keepsakes such as rosaries, images, or statues of saints.
3. The cemetery is considered a place of reverence and adoration.
Due to the culture’s heavy Catholic influence, cremation remains less popular than traditional burial among Latinos, although it is gaining acceptance. Those who opt for cremation usually bury the cremated remains in a cemetery in order to adhere to the Vatican’s guidelines for the conservation of ashes. After the funeral ceremony, family and friends gather for graveside services performed by a priest or other religious leader. Afterward, they assemble to pray, share traditional foods, and remember the one who has passed on.
4. The mourning period is extended.
Honoring and celebrating departed loved ones continues long after the funeral in the Hispanic culture. For example, novenarios are prayers or masses that family and close friends perform for nine consecutive days after the burial. They are intended to bring comfort to the grieving and to pray for the soul of the departed. A mass and reception to commemorate the anniversary of the death are also usually arranged, as are specific times of reverence throughout the year.
5. El Día de Los Muertos is a special time for honoring the departed.
On November 2nd, Hispanic families typically celebrate El Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Those who have passed away are paid tribute through a variety of meaningful celebrations and rituals. The recitation of prayers, the playing of special music, and the sharing of fond memories are among the many ways that survivors honor the departed on this significant day. The gravesites of departed family members and other loved ones are also decorated with wreaths, flowers, candles, and various keepsakes.
Latino funeral traditions are rich with cultural details, the love of family, and the reverence of strong faith. A unique acceptance of death allows family members and friends of the departed to celebrate a life well-lived and share in ongoing spiritual unity long after the funeral is over.
Evan W. Smith Funeral Services welcomes people of all ethnicities, races, and beliefs. If you are seeking to plan a distinctive funeral that honors your cultural traditions and the wishes of your loved one, please contact our compassionate professionals.
About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.