Funeral Flower Etiquette for Different Faiths

Different cultures have a range of expectations and attitudes towards funerals and expressing condolences. If you do not share the faith of the deceased or their family, here is a quick guide to the flower etiquette for different faiths. If you are still unclear about the expectations, you can speak to the venue where the service is being carried out for further guidance and advice.

When Funeral Flowers are Accepted

Buddhists, Baha’I, Catholics, Christians, Mormons, and Eastern Orthodox Christians all accept flowers at funerals. However, flowers in the shape of a crucifix are not always accepted (eg. by Mormons). White flowers are preferred in Easter Orthodox funerals. White flowers are also traditional within Buddhism. Flowers are present at Hindu ceremonies, and are often in the open casket. In Asian funerals, white or yellow flowers are appreciated. In China, Japan, and Korea white chrysanthemums are symbolic of grief. Red flowers should be avoided as red is the colour of happiness.

When Funeral Flowers are Inappropriate

Flowers are not appropriate at orthodox Jewish or many Muslim funerals. If you are attending a Jewish funeral, you should bring desserts, fruit, or Kosher food to the Shiva (the week after the funeral). Flowers are not appropriate for a Shiva call. Whether or not flowers are acceptable at a Muslim funeral depends on the family and the religious leader, so if it’s appropriate to do so you may ask one of these. Some Muslims prefer to place emphasis on simplicity at funerals, so floral decorations are not in keeping with the beliefs about the funeral service. If you are told that flowers are appropriate, fragrant flowers such as roses are popular. Palm branches or other greenery and individual flowers may also be placed on the grave.