Chinese funerals

Chinese funerals are influenced by lots of different religions and regional traditions. The four main religions in China are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism - and all of these heavily interweave in the funeral tradition.

The details of Chinese funerals depend on different elements such as the marital and social status or the age of the loved one who has died.

A large part of the Chinese burial tradition is Feng Sui. Feng Sui is the practice of arranging physical spaces to balance the energy with the natural world. Following on from this, the location of the grave can be a complicated decision. It’s believed that where a loved one is buried affects the chi of their whole family.

What is a Chinese funeral service like?

A Chinese funeral service begins with a wake (shou ling) where members of the family take it in turns to sit with the person who has died as they prepare for their transition into the afterlife. This process can last up to seven days and takes place either in the home of the family of the deceased or at a local temple. At the shou ling, mourners bring food, incense, joss paper, white envelopes of money and more to leave as an offering.

At the funeral, mourners attend a ceremony where a eulogy is given. The family of the deceased then give guests a red envelope with a coin inside to make sure that guests get home safely. They may also be given a red thread which is to be tied to a door at the guest’s house to keep evil spirits away.

How long after death is a Chinese funeral?

The funeral is held after the wake. This can be between a few days to 7 days after the death.

How long does a Chinese funeral service last?

A Chinese funeral generally lasts about 7 days. The mourning period can last a lot longer, sometimes up to 100 days after which there can be a final ceremony.

Is money given at a Chinese funeral?

Giving money is a large part of the Chinese funeral tradition. Those who attend the wake are expected to give money in white envelopes. This is then used for the funeral. The amount given by the guests depends on their relationship with the deceased. Then there is joss paper or paper money that is given and burned at the wake. It’s believed that this money is donated to the soul of the deceased.

What do you say at a Chinese funeral?

Depending on the religion of the family of the deceased, prayers may be recited at the final funeral ceremony.

It’s believed that elders - those older than the deceased - should not recite prayers during the ceremony. If the deceased was not married, their body remains at the funeral home as there are no children to carry out the service. If the deceased is a child or an infant, the ceremony is held in silence.

What should I wear to a Chinese funeral?

This can depend on the religious tradition. Subdued colours are most often worn by mourners and it’s important to remember that the colour red is never worn. Red symbolises happiness and is commonly worn for weddings. White is sometimes worn for funerals as is pink if the deceased is over 80.

What happens after a Chinese funeral service?

After the funeral, there’s a procession to the crematorium or the cemetery. This is often led by a band who play loud music to ward off spirits. The hearse is usually adorned with a large picture of the deceased. Depending on the wealth of the family, sometimes professional mourners are hired to make up numbers in the procession.

How much does a Chinese funeral cost?

The cost of a Chinese funeral depends on where in the UK it’s taking place. Your local funeral director will be able to let you know how much the funeral will cost. Find out more about funeral costs.

Our funeral directors can help you arrange a Chinese funeral service for your loved one. We’re experienced in arranging funerals for all, regardless of faith, religion or culture. We’re available to support you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

0800 088 4883 (24 hour service)