Expressing Sympathy With Flowers: Cultures And Religions

Posted on: 3 December 2015

Flowers are a traditional symbol of sympathy in many areas of the United States and are usually a dependably appropriate way to show proper respect and thoughtfulness. If, like most people, your circle of acquaintances has grown to include a diverse cross-section of religions and cultures, it's entirely possible that your expression of heartfelt sympathy could turn out be a misstep instead. To avoid insulting your friend's loved ones, read on for a guide to proper floral and funeral etiquette for a few cultures and religions that may not be as familiar as most.

Protestant: Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans

Traditionally, floral displays for Protestants consist of large-scale, colorful arrangements in pots, in the shape of crosses or wreath-shaped. It should be noted that the immediate family of the deceased provides the larger "blanket" of flowers for the top of the casket. Arrangements will normally be sent to the funeral home and then transported by the funeral home to the graveside, where they will stay for a few days until the family removes them. Recently, a trend of sending live green plants has become increasingly popular and provides a more lasting tribute of sympathy.

Roman Catholic

Similarly to Protestant practices, floral displays are sent to the funeral home, but the flowers are generally more subdued in both size and color, and are often in shapes such as hearts, wreath and crosses. It is also appropriate to send flowers directly to the home of the immediate family.


It is inappropriate to send flowers for Jewish burial ceremonies. Instead, baskets of kosher food should hand-delivered or sent directly to the home of the immediate family. The family will observe a formal period of mourning for seven days after the death, or "sit Shiva", during which visits to the home are welcome.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Floral displays should be sent to the funeral home in the shape of wreaths, hearts or sprays. It's  important to note that floral displays in the shape of a cross are acceptable but not preferred.


The yellow or white chrysanthemum is the traditional flower of mourning in most Asian countries; with white mums being used China, Korea and Japan. It should be noted that wearing the color red to an Asian funeral is inappropriate, since red is considered a color for happier occasions.


This culture has diverse funeral traditions depending on location and sect. Some Islamic and Muslim followers prefer that donations be made in the deceased's name to certain charities in lieu of flowers. Contacting a member of the family to learn more about their particular traditions would be helpful.

A heartfelt handwritten note to the family of the deceased is always an appropriate and kind gesture, whether you send flowers or not, and just letting them know that you are there for them is wonderful way to show you care.

For more information, contact Fasan Florist or a similar company.