At most local funeral homes, you’ll spot mourners in a sea of black amidst colorful funeral home flowers, since black is the common color to wear to such an event. But why is that?
Believe it or not, black is not universal for “mourning” or openly demonstrating grief over a death. In Asian culture, wearing white is symbolic of death and is considered appropriate attire at a funeral. In fact, it used to be tradition in Europe for white to be worn at funerals by widows who were deeply in mourning, so to an extent, white was even more reverent than black, a next step in funeral attire.
But while white is a color that’s sometimes part of funeral plans, going as far back as the Roman Empire, black was worn, in the form of toga pulla made of dark-colored wool. So while other colors (or non-colors, since white is the absence of color) have been worn, wearing black dates back centuries.
By the end of the 19th century, mourning customs had evolved in the United Kingdom to strict standards and dress. Women would wear heavy black clothing in order to hide themselves during their mourning period, which could last for years. Most notably, Queen Victoria wore black for 40 years following the death of her husband Prince Albert, which set the bar pretty high for funeral etiquette. Following in her footsteps, even the people who couldn’t afford black clothing would attempt to dye their wardrobe black in order to be like Queen Victoria.
There’s no telling why people like the Romans started wearing black to honor death all those centuries ago, but the trend has stuck and evolved into what we wear to funerals today.
For more information on funeral etiquette and other related funeral home questions, check out Cotrell’s blog. Cotrell has Missouri funeral homes in Poplar Bluff and Wappapello. Call (573) 785-8484 (Poplar Bluff) or (573) 222-8888 (Wappapello) or email email@example.com for more info.