Over time, cultures around the world have developed their own unique traditions for funerals. And with more than two million people dying each year in the U.S. alone, there are numerous funerals every year. So if you’re going through a funeral planning checklist, you’ll see a lot of different tasks that need to be done. Memorial services and funerals can be arranged however the surviving family members deem appropriate — but what are some of the most popular and unique funeral traditions found around the world?
Burial Beads in South Korea: Due to lack of graveyard space, South Korea passed a law in 2000 that requires graves to be removed after 60 years. Because of this requirement, cremation has become a popular method of final disposition. But instead of ashes, many families choose to have the remains pressed into gem-like beads. These beads can then be displayed in a home or kept in an urn like ashes normally would.
Jazz Funeral in New Orleans: In New Orleans, life is celebrated with music. So it only makes sense to have a jazz procession for funerals — on the way to the grave, the jazz procession leads the funeral attendants with sad music and follows the funeral with merrier music. In doing this, the funeral attendants can both mourn the loss of the deceased with sad music and celebrate their life with more upbeat music and dancing.
Sky Burials in Tibet: For thousands of years, Tibetans have been practicing what is known as “sky burials”, in which the body isn’t actually buried at all. Due to their belief of the transmigration of spirits upon death, the body of the deceased is laid on a mountaintop to be exposed to the elements. Once external elements, including vultures, have cleaned the body, the bones are then ground up and fed to crows. This process allows the remaining body to be used after the spirit is gone.
As you can see, many cultures have varying funeral practices around the world. While some of these traditions may not be on your funeral planning checklist, it’s important to think about what kind of traditions should be involved in the funeral you’re planning to honor the deceased.