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Mexican Funeral Traditions, Customs, and Beliefs

In Mexican culture, there are a number of traditional funeral customs that are followed in order to give the deceased a proper send-off. These traditions vary from family to family, but having a brief understanding of what to expect can be helpful if you are attending a Mexican funeral.

It’s common in Mexican culture for the family to hold a wake before the funeral. If you’ve never attended it’s typically held the night before the funeral. The body of the deceased is present at the wake, which takes place at either a funeral home or in the home of the deceased. Family and friends will come to pay their respects and say a final goodbye.

When attending the wake

Wakes typically take place at the deceased’s home or a funeral home and last for two to three days. Friends and family members gather during this time to pay their respects and share memories of the deceased. It is common for food and drink to be served at Mexican wakes, so that attendees can refuel after spending time at the visitation.

If you are attending a wake, it is customary to dress in black or dark clothing. Women may also wear veils as a sign of mourning. You should avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, as it can be considered disrespectful.

At the funeral

Mexican funerals are typically held at a church, with the Mass being led by a priest. The funeral service usually lasts for about an hour.

Mexican funeral songs typically include religious hymns as well as popular ballads. If you're interested in hearing what kind of songs might be played at the funeral, here are some popular selections:

These songs can be played at some point during the funeral to provide a sense of comfort to the friends and family of the deceased.

Mexican funeral traditions

Mexican funerals tend to be held in a church and have a strong Catholic influence when it comes to the rituals and customs that are performed during the service. These rituals typically include:

-The family receiving the Eucharist. -Prayers being said for the deceased. -The rosary being recited. -A eulogy being given. -The family and friends sharing memories of the deceased.

Mexican funeral attire

If you are attending a Mexican funeral, it is important to dress respectfully. In general, anyone attending a funeral should avoid wearing brightly colored clothing. Darker colors (black, dark gray, dark browns) are acceptable to wear to a Mexican funeral, unless the family requests attendees wear specific colors.

Women typically wear clothing such as longer skirts, dresses, dress pants, and nice blouses. Men will often wear dress pants, a dress shirt, and a jacket or suit.

If the funeral you are attending is taking place during warm weather months, it is appropriate to dress more casually while still maintaining a respectful appearance. Some ideas of attire for summer funerals include:

-A darker sundress for women -Khaki pants or dress shorts for men, paired with a polo shirt or dress shirt -A skirt or slacks for women, paired with a blouse

It is important to avoid wearing overly casual clothing items or clothing that's heavily distressed, as this can be taken as a sign of disrespect at any funeral.

Mexican funeral reception

After the funeral, it is common for there to be a reception where attendees can share memories of the deceased and enjoy refreshments. The food served at Mexican funeral receptions typically includes a variety of traditional dishes such as:

-Tamales -Pozole -Taco Salad -Fried Plantains -Churros

If you are attending a Mexican funeral reception, it is customary to bring food to share with the other guests. You can also bring a monetary gift for the family of the deceased, which is typically given to the person who is hosting the reception.

When attending a funeral reception, it is important to remember that you are there to support the grieving family.

What to expect after the funeral

Beliefs and customs surrounding death extend beyond just the funeral, especially in Mexican culture. Mexican culture holds a deep respect for those who have passed away and there are many traditions and customs that are followed in the days and weeks after a death has occurred.

Novena for the dead

A novena is a nine-day prayer that is said for the dead. This tradition originated in Spain, but it is now practiced throughout Latin America, including Mexico. The novena prayer continues for nine consecutive days. The prayers that are said during a novena for the dead typically include petitions for God’s mercy, as well as prayers for the deceased’s soul. Families of the deceased will pray for the deceased's soul's safe passage into heaven during this time.

Keeping the memory alive

The family is responsible for keeping the memory of their loved one alive. Many families will do this by setting up an altar in their home with pictures of the deceased, as well as items that were important to them in life. The altar is a way for family and friends to remember the deceased, and to keep their spirit alive. Another way Mexico honors those who have passed is by celebrating Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos (Day of the dead)

One of Mexico's most popular and well-known traditions is the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). This holiday takes place on November 1st and 2nd and is a time to remember and honor those who have passed away.

Families typically set up altars in their homes with pictures of the deceased, as well as candles, flowers, and other mementos. They may also visit the graves of their loved ones and leave offerings such as food, drink, and flowers. It's not uncommon for Mexican families to choose a grave so that they can visit and pay respects to the person who has passed.

The Day of the Dead is a joyful holiday in Mexico, and it is not uncommon for parties and celebrations to take place during this time. The purpose of the holiday is to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have passed away, rather than to mourn their deaths.

While this article covered some of the Mexican funeral beliefs and customs, it is by no means an exhaustive list. Mexican funeral traditions vary by region and family, so it's always best to ask about specific customs if you are unsure about what to do or expect. Additionally, it's important to remember that Mexican funerals in the US may differ from funeral traditions in Mexico.

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Last updated November 9, 2022
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