Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.
But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at Argentinian funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about German funeral traditions and Yemeni funeral traditions, among others.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.
When a family’s loved one passes away, one of the first things they do is plan the wake. They want to have the viewing as soon as possible either at a funeral home or the deceased’s home. Family and friends of the deceased come view the body, pay their respects, share stories, and provide support. The deceased’s family may serve coffee for the guests, but there isn’t usually food served at the wake.
Argentinian Funeral Service
An Argentinian funeral typically follows Catholic traditions, since 66% of Argentina’s population is Catholic as of 2017. However, they bury the deceased as soon as possible; burial is more common than cremation in Argentina. On the anniversary of their death, they hold another Catholic mass to honor and remember their loved one. Argentinian people don’t forget their ancestors, and often continue their ancestors’ traditions in their memory.
Children Funeral Rituals
When children or babies pass away, they have a special ceremony called Velorio del Angelito, meaning Little Angel’s Wake. There’s ritual dancing and singing to honor and remember the children and babies who died too young.
One of the most well-known Little Angel’s Wake is the story of Miguel Ángel Gaitán. He died of meningitis 15 days before his first birthday in 1967, and his family buried him in an above-ground tomb. Seven years later, a storm destroyed his tomb. His family tried to rebuild it four times, but it recollapsed each time during the night. The casket lid also opened up and showed his well-preserved body.
His family took this as a sign that he didn’t want to be hidden anymore. They placed him in a casket with a glass lid and put him in a public mausoleum for visitors to view his body. He’s considered a folk saint, and many people come ask him for advice and bring him toys to play with as offerings.