There are many ways in which Americans mourn their dead, but around the world there are even more celebrations and rituals in different cultures, religions, and more. Here are five customs around the world that show the different ways we memorialize the dead.
In Balinese tradition, cremation releases the soul so that it may inhabit a new body. Because of this belief and the Balinese culture’s emphasis on cremation, their cremation ceremonies have become very lavish affairs. They consist of large parades, giant towers, and a black bull or water buffalo created by a specialized craftsman in which the deceased is cremated.
The Ghanaian tradition goes beyond traditional coffins and turns their funeral vessels into works of art. Each coffin is custom made by a master craftsman and reflects the lifestyle and personality of the deceased. The tradition is part of the Ghanaian idea that life continues after death.
Like so much else in New Orleans, they have a whole different take on funerals. The city’s melting pot culture helped develop the jazz funeral tradition. A jazz funeral usually starts at the family’s home. A brass band, family, and friends march the procession to a church or cemetery.
How would you like to be a piece of jewelry? South Korea has a high population density and little space for their dead, which caused concern. As a solution, they began pressing the ashes of loved ones into small beads, which can come in a variety of colors.
In Cavite, which is located in the Philippines, people select a tree they like when they are terminally ill or when they reach a very old age. They then reside near the tree until their death, upon which the tree, still standing, is hollowed out and used as their burial vessel.
These customs are a lot different than our idea of a traditional funeral. But while the way in which we mourn may be different, the need to mourn is human and felt by nearly every culture. How Americans mourn isn’t a constant either — it looks a lot different now than it did 50 years ago, and it will probably look different 50 years into the future, too.
What are other unique funeral customs from across the globe? Share them with us in the comments!