Thoughtful Sympathy Expressions: Cultures, Religions And Flowers

Throughout time, flowers have been a tribute for most of life's momentous occasions, from marriages to burials. In the United States, floral expressions of sympathy are considered a tradition. Not all cultures and religions view flowers at someone's death in the same manner, and increasingly you may find yourself puzzled when it comes time to honor the deceased with flowers. The last thing you want to do is insult a friend or family member who may be from a culture or practice a religion different from your own, so read on to learn more about using the appropriate floral expressions of sympathy when dealing with unfamiliar customs.

The Protestant Religion: Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians

Large standing sprays in round wreath shapes, cross shapes and large pots of colorful flowers are usually found at these wakes, memorials, viewings and funerals. It's traditional for the immediate family of the deceased to provide the "blanket" of flowers that serves as a covering for the casket in most cases. Live plants in large pots have also become increasingly popular, and for good reason. These plants can be kept in pots indoors or, depending on the climate, be set out in the garden to provide a lasting memory of the loved one. You can have these displays and pots delivered by the flower shop to the funeral home, the church or even to the home of the family.

The Roman Catholic Religion

The Catholic religion share many similarities to the Protestant religion, with the main difference being the size of the displays and the colors used. You will find smaller scale standing displays in the shapes of hearts, crosses and wreaths in more subdued shades. Flowers may be sent to the services or directly to the family home.

The Jewish Religion

Never send flowers to the family, services or burial of a deceased Jewish person; it is inappropriate. The family will "sit Shiva" , a formal mourning period, for 7 days following the death. Throughout this 7 day period both visits to the home and baskets of kosher food are traditional and welcome. Florists and deli shops in some areas will delivery kosher baskets to the family, if you are unable to personally visit.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Religion

Floral displays in the shape of sprays, wreaths or hearts may be sent to the funeral home, LDS chapel, or family home. It is considered inappropriate to send a display in the shape of a cross.

The Asian Culture

The traditional flower of mourning in most Asian countries is white or yellow chrysanthemums. In China, Japan and Korea, white chrysanthemums are normally used. If you attend a funeral of a person of the Asian culture, be sure not to offend the family by wearing the color red, which is reserved for more celebratory occasions.

The Muslim Religion

Since this religion is so widespread and diverse in its customs, contacting a family member of the deceased is recommended. In some cases, donations to preferred charities instead of flowers are called for.

No matter what, a handwritten, heartfelt note to the family is never inappropriate. Your local flower shop will undoubtedly be a font of more information about appropriate gestures using flowers and more.