Your essential custom guide to modern Chinese funeral

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Your essential custom guide to modern Chinese funeral


Is this your first time attending a Chinese-custom funeral?

Do you want to learn how the Chinese carry out their funeral, so you look out of place?

Such as what to wear, how to say, when to act and what to give.

Then you come to the right post.


It teaches you the essentials about Chinese funeral customs from the decreased family to close friends and guests.

It explains the role each family member plays before, during and after the funeral.



Treating the decreased

The way the Chinese treat the decreased depend on age and generation. Here is a quick ‘mini-guide’:

A). If the decreased is 80 years or over; – His or Her life is a cause for celebration because they lived a full life. The decreased family members will wear white with pink or red colouring.

B). 80 years or under, but an elder; – Close family wears traditional white mourning clothing. All the guests should adhere to wearing dull colours and avoid wearing red. It’s not a wedding!

C). If the parent’s child dies; – The parents aren’t allowed to offer prayers to their child. The child’s corpse gets left at the funeral home and mustn’t enter the parent’s house. All funeral arrangements get handled by the grandchildren or by the deceased brothers or sisters.


When you receive an invitation to a Chinese funeral

If you have a Chinese friend, who passed away. You are likely to receive an invitation.

In that invitation, it includes the usual (date, time and location) of the funeral.

The difference is the invitation could provide information on other things like:

-Friend’s date of birth and death


-Names of surviving family’s members and,

-Cause of death.



Before the funeral

There are many things a Chinese family must do before the funeral begins. Here are a few things to consider:

A). Keeping vigil; – family members stay overnight to keep a vigil. The person’s picture, along with flowers and candles get placed on the body.

It’s a process known as Shou Ling.

By keeping a vigil, the family members are accompanying their journey to the spirit world.

B). Appearances in the house; – In the house where the deceased is staying in, there are several things to keep in mind. They are:

-Keeping the cats away from the coffin because of the belief the corpse will jump out;

-A white cloth hangs in the doorway;

-You would place a gong at the entrance (left side for male, right for female);

-Mirrors aren’t allowed because a reflection of the deceased is bad luck. Chinese superstition believes it could bring about another death in the family.

C). Children deal with the funeral arrangement and events; – In most cases, the children are in charge of preparing and coordinating the funeral.

It is a way to show piety and devotion to one’s parents.

D). Consulting the Chinese Almanac; – You can’t pick any funeral date that is available. For some Chinese families (especially those Cantonese-speaking) they consult the Chinese Almanac.

Chinese Almanac

Its objective is to find a good date to hold the funeral.

The Chinese Almanac or better known as the Tung Shing and acts as a divination book. Many Feng Shui practitioners use the Tung Shing for a variety of things such as moving house and weddings.


For the guests, here’s what to adhere to when attending a Chinese funeral:

1). Clothing; – Clothing is an important part of the funeral.

For guests, you must choose sombre colours like black or grey. A similar setting with Western funerals.

2). Giving money; – In Chinese culture, people receives money in a red envelope on their birthdays and during the New Year.

When it comes to funerals, you should give money in white an envelope because white represents death in Chinese culture.

A major reason to give money is to help the grieving family to pay their funeral costs.

The amount you give depends on the size of your wealth.



During the Funeral

When you are attending the funeral, remind yourself of the following things:

A). Do not say goodbye to the deceased; – depending on how close you’re to the decreased, you can say goodbye. If you’re Chinese, there is a superstition that by saying goodbye, the decreased will find you in the form of a spirit.

B). Burning things; – The Chinese burn paper for the dead and these papers are joss papers. It helps them through the journey to the netherworld.

Joss paper

You might see the burning of paper cars, houses or other paper items. These items are the loved one’s interests and they follow them into the afterlife.

C). Don’t look at the coffin; – You can look at the coffin when it is opened, but when it closes avert your eyes. The reason is to make sure their soul departs peacefully.



After the Funeral

After the funeral ceremony, some Chinese families would hire a band to lead the procession with loud music and a dance performance. The purpose is to scare away the spirit, so the decrease can rest in peace.

However, the funeral ceremony doesn’t end on day one. If the family is Buddhist, the mourning period lasts 49 days. Each week of that 49 days, requires a prayer. In some cases, a final ceremony takes place after 100 days.

Afterwards, the partner, children and close relatives make annual visits to their graveyard or place of cremation.

Tomb Sweeping Festival

It usually takes place at Qing Ming, known as the Tomb Sweeping Festival. The event takes place on the 4th of April.



Thanks for reading this article. I hope this helps get you through a Chinese funeral without any hassle. You would earn the respect of fellow mourners even in a time of grief.


Walter the content slayer

My professional background is analysing equities/shares for ordinary people in the UK. Now, I seek a different challenge. One that requires stealthily to find searchable topics that lack REAL CONTENT coverage.

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