Chinese Burial Traditions

Chinese Memorial

Chinese funeral arrangements differ from typical western funerals because they are based around a non-Christian belief system. There are many common customs practiced by Chinese families to honor their deceased loved ones, but each burial will vary depending on the family. Cremation is not typical in Chinese culture and the burial is a solemn and serious process.

Arranging the Funeral
It’s not customary for an elder to defer funeral planning responsibility to someone younger; funeral arrangements are typically handled by the children or young family members of the deceased to show respect for their elder who has passed on. The Chinese Almanac is consulted to determine the best date for the burial. The death is announced by invitations to the funeral.

Burial Attire
The deceased are never dressed in red because this is a color that symbolizes happiness. White, blue, and yellow are traditional colors for burial attire, and the body is dressed from head to toe. One’s face may be covered with cloth, but women will still be adorned with makeup.

Procession
The coffin is typically moved in a hearse with the family following behind to the cemetery, similar to western funeral processions. Vehicles in the procession usually carry white cloth or paper because white is the color reserved for death in Chinese culture.

The Burial
When the casket is lowered, it’s customary to look away. Relatives throw handfuls of unearthed dirt into the grave before it is filled. Clothes of those attending the funeral are later burned to avoid bad luck.

Much like western funerals and burials, the details of each ceremony will vary. Skylawn Memorial Park of San Mateo embraces differing funeral traditions across various cultures, and our multi-lingual staff can assist in providing the right burial arrangements for your loved one. Call (650) 349-4411 or contact us online for more information.

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