Chinese funeral customs are deeply rooted in tradition and are considerably more elaborate than western funerary traditions. These customs feature a range of rituals and practices that are designed to aid the deceased’s soul in their journey to the afterlife and provide support and comfort to their family and loved ones.

One important aspect of Chinese funerals is the giving of condolence money to the deceased’s family to help pay for the funeral.

In this article, we will explore the intricate and fascinating world of Chinese funeral customs, examining the various traditions, rituals, and practices that are involved in the funeral process. We will look at the importance of giving condolence money, the meaning behind the odd-numbered amounts, and the high costs associated with traditional Chinese funerals.

Additionally, we will examine the significance of colors in Chinese funerals and the recent mandate of cremation in China. By delving into these topics, we hope to provide readers with a greater understanding and appreciation of the rich cultural traditions that are an integral part of Chinese funerary customs.

Traditions and Rituals

The elaborate Chinese funerary traditions that involve giving condolence money, among other rituals, are rooted in the strong emphasis on filial piety and ancestor veneration in Confucianism and Buddhism.

Before the funeral, the deceased is cleaned and dressed in formal funeral attire.

A wake is held to allow attendees to pay their respects to the deceased.

On the day of the funeral, the body is carried to the burial or cremation site in a hearse.

Throughout the funeral, funerary offerings are presented to provide the deceased with the money and goods they may need in the afterlife.

Many Chinese funerals feature prayers recited by Buddhist or Taoist monks.

Chinese funeral customs also involve the giving of postmortem gifts, such as flowers and imitation paper money.

These gifts are meant to honor the deceased and provide them with resources in the afterlife.

The tradition of giving condolence money is also deeply ingrained in Chinese funerary customs.

Guests are expected to give at least 101 Yuan ($16) in a white envelope on the day of the funeral or the day before.

The given amount must be an odd number, and the amount increases for closer associates.

While giving condolence money is not compulsory for funeral attendees, it is considered a gift to help pay for the funeral.

Burial Customs

Confucianism and Buddhism heavily influence the development of burial customs in China, with a strong emphasis on filial piety and ancestor veneration. Family members and close friends should hold vigils for a dying person, and after the death, the deceased’s family will hang a white banner over the door to notify the neighbors that a death has occurred.

The funeral will usually be scheduled on an auspicious date from the Chinese calendar. The immediate family members are expected to wear white clothes, while more distant relatives will wear white, black, green, or blue clothes. Before the funeral, the deceased will be cleaned and dressed in formal funeral attire. A wake is held before the funeral, where attendees pay respects to the deceased.

During the funeral, funerary offerings are presented to provide the deceased with the money and goods they may need in the afterlife. The deceased’s family may also purchase expensive funeral offerings for the deceased. The offering of postmortem gifts is a common Chinese funeral custom. These gifts are meant to provide the deceased with items they may need in the afterlife, such as paper money, paper cars, and even paper phones. The more elaborate the gift, the more respect the family shows to the deceased.

Overall, the Chinese burial customs are highly intricate and aim to provide a proper sendoff to the deceased while also honoring their memory.

Costs and Expenses

Expenses for traditional Chinese funerals can be exorbitant, with burial plots in major cities costing up to $33,000. This is due to the high demand for land and the unregulated burial plot speculation in the country.

The average cost of a traditional Chinese funeral ranges between 20,000 and 80,000 Yuan ($3,150-$13,000), which can be a financial burden for the deceased’s family. To alleviate these costs, some families opt for funeral insurance or alternative funeral arrangements such as cremation, which has been mandated by the Chinese government as a way to address the shortage of burial space.

Despite the high costs, giving condolence money or ‘pek kim’ is still an important part of Chinese funerary traditions. This gift is meant to help the deceased’s family pay for the funeral expenses and to provide the deceased with the money and goods they may need in the afterlife.

The expected amount of condolence money varies depending on the relationship between the giver and the deceased, with close associates expected to give more than distant relatives. While giving condolence money is not compulsory for funeral attendees, it is still a widely practiced custom in Chinese culture.

Meaning of Colors

Color symbolism holds significant meaning in traditional Chinese burial practices and is associated with various aspects of life and death. In Chinese culture, white is the color of mourning and death, and it is often used in funeral rituals and ceremonies. The color white is also associated with purity, peace, and goodness, which is why many families choose to dress the deceased in white clothing or use white flowers and decorations during the funeral.

Apart from white, other colors also hold cultural significance in traditional Chinese funerals. Red is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture and is often used during weddings and other joyful occasions. However, it is not used during funerals as it is believed to bring bad luck.

Black is another color that is often associated with mourning and is used to symbolize the loss and grief of the family. Green is a color that represents growth and new life and is not typically used during funerals.

Understanding the cultural significance of colors in traditional Chinese funerals can help attendees show respect and offer condolences in an appropriate and meaningful way.

Mandated Cremation

The Chinese government’s mandate for cremation as an alternative to conventional burial reflects the country’s struggle with the rapidly increasing cost of land, which has been likened to a wildfire that engulfs everything in its path.

The high cost of burial plots in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which can cost nearly $33,000, has made cremation a more viable option for many families.

Additionally, the Chinese government has recognized the environmental impact of traditional burials and is promoting the use of cremation to reduce land use and pollution.

Cremation alternatives, such as scattering ashes at sea or in designated areas, have also become more popular in recent years.

While traditional Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on ancestor veneration and proper burial rituals, many families are now opting for the convenience and affordability of cremation.

This shift in funeral customs is a reflection of the changing societal and economic landscape in China, where the cost of living continues to rise and the government seeks sustainable solutions to environmental issues.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *