All religions and cultures say farewell differently.
Latino funerals are often vibrant, colorful affairs, rich in traditions and customs. The family bond is evident, and culturally meaningful representations of heritage are typically found throughout the event. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most distinctive aspects of Latino funerals.
Religion plays a prominent role.
Many Latino families have a religious affiliation to the Catholic Church, which influences much of the culture, including funeral traditions. Death is often considered to the time when the soul returns home, rendering it both a joyous and solemn occasion for those left behind. While not all Hispanics are Catholic, religion in general remains a central theme for this population. Prayer and worship are important elements of death rituals, and many families choose to adorn their deceased loved ones with religious mementos, such as rosaries, images, or statues of saints.
Celebrations of life are fully embraced.
Latino funerals are traditionally social events. Customary fare, such as pastelitos, tamales, and pan dulce, is often served at the wake, and it’s not uncommon for family and friends to play cards and share laughs during extended viewing periods that can last well into the evening. For this community, the atmosphere is often reminiscent of a party in honor of the departed. Among the more reserved, devoted Catholics, the visitation tends to be a sacred vigil filled with scripture readings, reflection and prayers.
A cemetery is a place of reverence.
Due to the heavy Catholic influence, cremation remains less popular than traditional burial among Latinos, although it is gaining acceptance. Those who do 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 typically gather for graveside services performed by a priest or other religious leader. Live mariachis and music may even be present at the burial event. Afterward, family and friends gather to pray, share a meal, and remember the one who has passed.
Mourning doesn’t end with the burial.
Honoring and celebrating their loved one long after the funeral is important in the Hispanic culture. For example, novenarios are recitations, 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 is also usually arranged, as are specific times of reverence throughout the year.
The Día de los Muertos is a special time for honoring the deceased. On November 2nd, many Latino families celebrate Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Those who have passed on are honored through a variety of meaningful celebrations and rituals. People often gather to decorate the gravesites of deceased family members with candles, wreaths, flowers, and various keepsakes. Prayer, music, and the sharing of fond memories are among the many ways that survivors pay tribute to their departed loved ones on this significant day.
Latino funeral traditions are infused with the vibrancy of the culture, 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 to share in regular communion long after the funeral is over.
Evan W. Smith Funeral Services welcomes people of all ethnicities, races, and religious beliefs. If you’re seeking to plan a funeral that will honor your family traditions and the wishes of your loved one, please contact our compassionate, knowledgeable 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 https://www.evanwsmithfuneralservices.com/.