Culture: Funeral in China

In China, people do not have religion faith in common, but through thousands of years, religion have deeply influence on the funeral behavior especially Chinese Buddhism.

In general Chinese people believe in soul after death,  the funeral ceremony to honor the decease will become more and more sophisticated from southern China to northern China, even some funeral in northern rural area will be held for couple days, involved actor and actress to perform, and host dinner for all the village people.

After I grew up, I attended three typical funerals, one is in northern rural village, one in urban , one in south China, basically they followed the same rule, but the third one is far more easier or simple than that in the rural village, funeral in urban is more typical with moderated procedure.

Common procedure:

  1. Notification by putting some wreath and funeral flower baskets in front of the main entrance of the building, a lighting bulb(soul will not loss his way) and a notification paper on the wall with some description meaning: forgive me for not notifying all of you people or friends.
  2. Cloth,, all sibling and relatives will change their cloth in some way, the easiest way is just wearing a black belt across an arm, the moderated way is wearing a white hood and white belt on the wrist, the last one which is usually in village will change all the cloth with white dress, shoes which is made of sackcloth.
  3. Setup a table with plaque of the deceased as well as three incense burning and fruit offering, for the corpse, some family will leave it directly behind the table in the coffin , the others will deliver the corpse to the public morgue
  4. Receive the grief from friends and other relatives, in China, all visitor will kowtow or bow in front of the deceased, depending on the custom of this very family who will return the favor by kowtow or bow, also the visitor will give money to this family(donation), this step will last three days.
  5. Cremate,  before cremate, some family will burning all the funeral flower baskets in the 2nd evening, meaning: in the escort of family, the deceased can be on his way to another world, then, the next day, with the coffin from home or morgue, all family will go to the public cinerator facility,  after the last sight of the deceased in the public hall of the cinerator facility, the corpse will be queue to be cremated.
  6. After three day of cremate, bone ash can be retrieved from the public cinerator facility, then family will decide how to deal with the bone ash box, some one will spread it into river or some place which is followed by the will, some will hold that box in home for memory, and most of people will choose to put the box in the public or private graveyard with some cost.
  7. For the next every seven days, the relatives will burn some cloth and ghost money, hoping these would be helpful to the deceased in another world.

Difference between religion funeral such as christian’s and Chinese funeral(as I noticed personally).

   Chinese should wail loudly, which is traditionally a way to deliver the decease message to neighbour or friends,  and as I know, funeral in west world may be quieter because they are afraid of disturbing the deceased(not sure).

   Some funeral in rural village will go too far, which is more close to a superstitious way

   Common graveyard is not affordable to ordinary people in beijing, more than $30,000.

   A little bustle, even some fun in modern Chinese funeral(most in village), such as singing, dancing, playing poker, chatting, more likely the funeral is an important social activity. In western world, it is more likely a ritual between the God and people, dead and lived.


Finally, we all have our tradition for life, respect the custom of everyone is vital.

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