Every country has its traditions even in funerals and, similarly, these traditions change in time. In the case of the traditional American funeral, their customs are composed of three parts. The first one is the visitation, followed by the funeral, and then the burial services. However, this wasn’t the case in the past two hundred years.
The Visitation at Funerals Homes
Traditionally speaking, Americans were used to home funerals. During the visitation or the wake, families and friends gather to view and remember the deceased. People gathered in the home of the deceased or their loved ones but, now, funeral homes are considered to be the best choice.
Funeral homes first came into light during urbanization in the country along with the opening of funeral parlors. The National Association of Funeral Directors was then formed in order to ensure oversee the industry. Funeral directors were now selected to ensure professionalism in the industry.
Nonetheless, even at home or funeral homes, one prescribed funeral tradition during the wake still live on and this is the signing of the attendee’s book. This is where the attendees sign their name as a record for the family and friends of the deceased.
The funeral services are considered to be the most constant American funeral custom even to those who prefer to be cremated. During the service, hymns are sung by the attendees, and the clergy will provide words of comfort for those who were left behind by the deceased.
Tradition also dictates that this is the last time that the family and friends of the deceased will see their loved one and say goodbye. The first one to say goodbye are the siblings, then the spouse, followed by the parents and children, and the lastly, the friends of the deceased.
The Caskets and Burial Services
As the funeral industry emerged, the coffin makers also started to mark their names in the industry. Before, coffins were made from wood but, now, people can pre-buy their caskets or their loved one’s coffins and choose other materials other than wood. The most common choices of material are metal and steel.
During the burial services, the casket is carried from the funeral home to the church or chapel. From the chapel, the casket is then brought to the hearse and then to the burial site.
The American funeral tradition believes that the casket must be closed during the burial ceremony. However, the Eastern Orthodox allows the coffin to be reopened before the burial for loved ones to see the deceased for the last time.
Nonetheless, in the 21st-century cremation is steadily increasing. However, many Americans still prefer the traditional funeral and burial services. Many of the funeral homes are also changing their approach wherein they cater to life celebrations instead of just giving a roof to those who mourn.
Other Funeral Traditions
After the burial service, a gathering is held by the family of the deceased either in their home or other preferred location. Moreover, a memorial service is also becoming a popular part of the American funeral customer wherein, in the absence of the body, the community will gather into fellowship and say eulogies and sing hymns for the deceased.
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