In Australia, our funerals look a little like this: A ceremony is held at a church, chapel or other religious building (or room) which is then followed by a cremation or burial at a cemetery plot. But in other countries? Funerals can look a little different. We’ve compiled a list of what we think are some pretty cool and interesting funeral traditions from around the world. And oh, how we wish Australia could adopt some of these!
Fantasy coffins: Ghana
Most coffins you’d have been privy to would have likely been made from oak, mahogany and elm-style veneers which are usually laminated onto chipboard or fibreboard. In Ghana, though, coffins are way more exciting, extravagant and meaningful. Instead of being housed in a generic coffin, citizens of the country are buried in a custom-made coffin that represents their work or a hobby. We loved looking through some epic coffin snaps on the CNN website. It’s safe to say our favourites are the fish and the piano.
Green funerals (United States)
These are exactly what they sound like. With a greater knowledge of ‘green living’ comes a greater desire to leave the world better than the way we found it. This is why many Americans are opting for a ‘green funeral’; a more environmentally-friendly farewell than traditional funerals. Think no embalming processes (preserving the corpse so it doesn’t decay), the use of sustainable or biodegradable coffins, shallow graves, and no permanent memorial. This trend has become so popular that the U.S now has a collection of environmentally-friendly cemeteries for those choosing to go ‘green’ when they pass.
Are these the funerals of the future? Maybe.
Jazz funerals: New Orleans
Funerals in New Orleans are anything but doom and gloom. Instead of mourners heading to the cemetery on their own or only alongside their family, they are joined by a brass band that plays music for them while they make their way to the location of the funeral. The music starts sombre, but becomes joyful and celebratory by the time they arrive, encouraging everyone to dance and celebrate the life of the deceased.
Sky burials: Tibet and Mongolia
Have a weak stomach? This funeral tradition might not be for you. Vajrayana Buddhists in Tibet and Mongolia believe in the transmigration of the spirit when a person dies; they believe that the soul moves on and the body remains an empty vessel. So, the body of the deceased is chopped into pieces and placed on top of a mountain, exposing it to the elements (and yes, this means that vultures often feed off the body). This process enables the body to be returned to the earth – its original home.
And in case you were wondering how common sky burials are? Turns out approximately 80% of Tibetans still opt for this type of burial. Super interesting, right?
Burial beads: South Korea
Did you know that there’s a shortage of space in South Korean graveyards? This has prompted a new law, dictating that buried bodies must be removed after 60 years. And while this might not sound like the biggest issue, the rising costs of cremation means that many South Korean families have needed to get a little creative with the way they say goodbye to their loved ones. So they’ve created burial beads, beautiful decorative pieces made from the ashes of the deceased that they can keep on display in their home.
There’s something extraordinary about experiencing a funeral in another country, especially when their traditions look a little like these. From ‘going green’ to dancing to jazz music, there’s something unique (and pretty epic) about every country’s way of honouring a deceased loved one.
If you'd like to include specific ideas for your funeral, you can include them in your Funeral Wishes - included when you write your Will with Willed. Start today at willed.com.au