Why Do People Wear Black To Funerals

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By Christie David-Simire


Ever wondered why people wear black to funerals? This article explains the underlying reasons behind the practice.

The beginning of this article will explore considerable reasons why individuals dress in black for burials. After that, we will explore where this practice originated from.

Then, I will discuss various other colors people wear to funerals.

Finally, our FAQ section will address some common questions related to this article’s topic.

Why Folks Put On Black Clothes For Burials

Why Folks Put On Black Clothes For Burials

People often choose to wear black clothes for burials due to a combination of cultural, historical, and symbolic reasons. This tradition has been practiced across various societies and carries different meanings, but some common factors include;

1. Regard And Respect

According to hamellydon.com, people dressing in black attire to funeral services signify respect for the departed. It is a way of regarding the traditions and wishes of the deceased family.

Moreover, black is a sober color that reflects the gravity of the occasion. Some beliefs even consider wearing other colors rude and offensive to the dead and may criticize those who do.

Besides, a way of showing concern for the dead is to avoid drawing attention to oneself, as stated by yourfuneralchoice.com. Thus, since black isn’t a flashy color, it will not likely draw attention to you.

2. Relationship With The Grieving

People dress in black to funerals to establish a relationship with the mourning family, as indicated by enlightio.com. To give more detail, burying a loved one is usually filled with sadness and an occasion where friends and family mourn.

Therefore, wearing black is a visual way to convey condolences and solidarity with the grieving family. It demonstrates a collective experience of mourning and sharing in the grief of those close to the person who passed away.

3. Support And Empathy

Wearing black to burials is a symbolic gesture that serves as a way to show support and empathy to the grieving family. This practice reflects a deep understanding of the emotional impact of loss and conveys a sense of unity with those mourning.

According to en.wikipedia.org, black is universally recognized as a color of mourning and solemnity. Therefore, by wearing black to a burial, individuals acknowledge the deceased family’s pain and loss.

4. Accepting The Inevitability Of Death

Death is an event that we all have to face at some point in our lives. It is a conclusive stage in one’s life that is unavoidable.

The reality that everyone will end up dead someday makes people wear black for burials, as suggested by enlightio.com. Moreover, black is commonly associated with darkness, somberness, and the unknown.

Hence, by wearing black to a burial, individuals symbolically acknowledge the finality of death and the mysteries that lie beyond.

5. Gravity Of The Event

Funerals are usually tense and solemn events where people barely smile or joke around. Hence, buyandslay.com insinuates that people wearing black to funerals is a sign of the seriousness of the situation.

This practice reflects the profound understanding that a funeral is a significant and weighty occasion. Therefore, it requires a certain level of reverence and respect.

When Did People Start Dressing In Black To Funerals

The origin of putting on black clothing at funerals dates back to ancient times. In those days, people would wear dark or dull colors as a symbol of their unhappiness and grief.

Specifically, the ancient Romans wore a dark-colored toga called a toga pulla to mourn a loved one’s death, as hinted by wonderopolis.org. It was after many centuries that other countries adopted the trend.

Moreover, joincake.com suggests that wearing black became widespread and formal for funerals in Western society during the Victorian era.

The event occurred in 1861 when Queen Victoria of England lost her husband, Prince Albert. The loss made her wear black for the rest of her life and set the trend for the British Empire.

What Other Colors Do People Wear To Burials

What Other Colors Do People Wear To Burials

Different parts of the world have various colors for mourning and funeral apart from black based on tradition and belief. These include;

1. White

According to funeralguide.co.uk, most Buddhist wear white at their funerals as a tradition and a wish for their loved ones to reincarnate.

In France, spinsters and infants wore white in the 16th century when they lost a loved one. This later became a tradition for queens who were ruling.

In addition to that, Chinese and Indians wear white to funerals as a symbol of purity, as indicated by cravens-funerals.com. Some Muslims also wear white for burials as a symbol of humility.

2. Red

South Africans wear red to symbolize blood, life, and honor for the dead, as explained by empathy.com. The origin of using red as funeral attire may have risen from the era of Apartheid.

Ghanaians also wear a combination of red and black for the burial of close family members, as stated by peacefmonline.com.

3. Yellow/Gold

Yellow is the color of mourning in Egypt because they associate it with the sun and its eternal life. Thus, the reason most Egyptian mummies have masks painted in yellow and gold, as established by safalta.com

Moreover, gold was the color of mourning for royalties in Egypt. They believed that royals would become gods after they died on Earth.

4. Purple

Pious Catholics in Brazil wear purple clothes for mourning during Easter to honor the death of Christ.

They also use purple to symbolize sorrow and avoid wearing it on other occasions, as insinuated by cravens-funerals.com. Meanwhile, lalo.app explains that widows in Thailand mourn their late husbands in purple clothing.

5. Grey Or Deep Blue

Widows in Papua New Guinea use grey to symbolize mourning for their late husbands. They cover the skin with clay that is grey and stone-like, as hinted by osirissoftware.com.

Furthermore, starkfuneral.com implies that some people wear dark grey or deep blue to funerals instead of black.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who Started Wearing Black At Funerals?

Numerous historians trace the earliest tradition of wearing black at funerals to the time of the Roman Empire.

2. Is it Okay To Not Wear Black At A Funeral?

Yes, it is okay not to wear black at a funeral. However, you should choose attire that is respectful, modest, and appropriate for the occasion.

3. Can I Wear Jeans To A Funeral?

That depends on the type and tone of the funeral service, as well as the wishes of the deceased family. Generally, jeans are not considered proper funeral attire unless specially requested by the family.

4. What Does Black Symbolize In A Funeral?

Black is a symbol of mourning and a somber occasion. It is also a sign of respect for the departed.

5. What’s The Most Appropriate Thing To Wear To A Funeral?

Wearing black or dark clothes that are respectful and conservative is appropriate to wear to a funeral. However, some cultures have different expectations for funeral colors and may prefer less conventional ones.


The tradition of wearing black to funerals is a practice deeply ingrained in cultural, historical, and symbolic significance. As we’ve explored, this custom has evolved over centuries to reflect various aspects of mourning, empathy, and respect.

Moreover, the tradition serves as a testament to our human instinct to come together during times of sorrow. However, not all cultures and religions follow the same practice.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the custom and expectations of a funeral service and to dress accordingly.

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References And Further Reading

  1. hamellydon.com – Why Do People Wear Black To A Funeral?
  2. yourfuneralchoice.com – Why do we wear black to funerals?
  3. enlightio.com – Why Do People Wear Black to Funerals? (23 Reasons)
  4. buyandslay.com – What to Wear to an African American Funeral
  5. joincake.com – Why Do People Usually Wear Black to a Funeral?
  6. osirissoftware.com – Understanding the Different Colors of Mourning
  7. starkfuneral.com – What to Wear to a Funeral (Not Black) – Ideas for Men & Women
  8. cravens-funerals.com – Colors of mourning around the world
  9. lalo.app – Mourning Colors of Nations Around The World
  10. safalta.com – What color is worn for funerals in Egypt?

About the Author

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Christie David-Simire

Christie is a dynamic individual with a natural interest in reading and writing. She is a Content Writer at ilifeguides.com, writing articles about relationships, parenting, finances, food, and gardening. Christie knows Human Resources Management and loves singing.

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