In the Philippines, when you hear of a funeral or memorial, especially during the procession, you can generally see mourners wearing black or white.
Traditionally, as black is the color for mourning, attendees are expected to wear black. Nowadays, not everyone follows this tradition anymore. This, however, starts a confusion: do I still wear black? Which is a proper color to wear other than black?
First, think of the funeral flowers – which is mostly white. White is the most common color to wear for a funeral in the Philippines, other than black. The procession could belong, and sometimes the city traffic could be hot, white is more reasonable for a tropical country’s funeral.
“In Medieval times, white was worn together with black when honoring lost lives. Buddhists wear white to funerals as a symbol of mourning and respect for the deceased person. Believing that the first three days should be a period of positivity so that the deceased can transition from life to die peacefully, Buddhists prefer to mourn in white.” This is according to Beyond The Dash website.
Some opt to wear gray or darker shades of gray. Gray is more sombre. Like ashes or dust, gray is the closest colour that signifies death and “the end”. According to Bourncreative.com, “The color gray is a timeless and practical color that is often associated with loss or depression. Dark, charcoal gray communicates some of the strength and mystery of black. It is a sophisticated color that lacks the negativity of the color black. Light grays can carry some of the attributes of the color white.”
Dark blue or navy and shades of purple have also become popular colors to wear for funerals. It is obvious, as blue is the color of sadness. Blue is more of a masculine color and purple feminine. Blue signifies responsibility and loyalty, while the color purple, usually for a deceased grandmother, is for elegance and dignity. From the Colormatters website, “Purple is the color of mourning or death in many cultures (U.K., Italy, Thailand, Brazil).”
Filipino has a superstitious belief for those who wear red during a funeral. From Wikipedia, “The color red is frowned upon in the time of mourning, it is believed that those who wear red within 9–40 days will die or suffer illness.” And for traditional families, “The immediate family wears black. When the one-year period is over, the first death anniversary will signal the end of mourning celebrated by a feast.”
Unless otherwise specifically requested by the deceased or his direct family, never assume that bright and lively colors are acceptable. The wishes of the deceased’s family are always the most important thing to keep in mind at a funeral. Even during the wake and nightly vigil, pay respects by not wearing florals.
Lastly, during visitations or throughout the funeral process, dress in a way that shows respect to the deceased, and sympathy and empathy to the family.
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