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The History of Flowers at Funerals

Published: August 22, 2022

If you’ve ever been to a funeral, then there’s a good chance the funeral home was decorated with flowers. Flowers have always been a way for us to express our deepest sentiments, whether happy or sad. Sending sympathy & funeral flowers is a heartfelt way to deliver some comfort to a grieving loved one. While the tradition of incorporating flowers at a farewell ritual has been around for thousands of years, did you know that flowers once had a very different use at funerals than they have today? We’re going to share with you the history of flowers at funerals to help make sense of why flowers remain an abiding tradition.

Flowers originally served a very practical purpose in funerals. They were used for odor control as the body decomposed. Back before embalming became an integral part of the funeral process and before refrigerated storage was common in funeral homes, bodies decomposed naturally very quickly. Funeral home directors used flowers draped around the casket – which is still traditional today – to mask the smell, which could be quite noxious.

As embalming and other preservation techniques improved, the need for flowers to serve a practical purpose in the funeral process disappeared. However, flowers were seen as a visible expression of sympathy, care, respect, and love for the deceased and the deceased's family.

Today, flowers are sent to funerals for a number of different reasons. First, they are a means of expression. Since it can often be difficult for those mourning a death to put their feelings into words, flowers can act as an expression of love, comfort, sympathy and respect. Flowers also create a background of warmth and beauty, adding to the dignity and consolation of the funeral service. They create a softness, where their beauty helps balance the heaviness and sadness of death, helping us accept the loss of a loved one.

Different types of flowers have very specific meanings for funerals. Lilies, for example, which are the most common type of funeral flowers used, symbolize a return to innocence and purity. Carnations are also a common choice. Red carnations express respect, while white carnations symbolize remembrance. Roses are the third most common choice. White roses are equated with humility and youthfulness, while yellow roses denote strong relationship bonds.

We expand more on this topic in our blog post: 10 Most Popular Flowers for Funerals

If you are local and are needing floral shop recommendations, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Roupp Funeral Home. We can help make the calls and the arrangements to get you the exact floral pieces you’re looking for.

Call us at 1-570-966-2402

If you’d like to make the arrangements on your own, please call one of our local floral shops:

Morning Glories Flower & Gift Shoppe
Address: 128 Main St, Watsontown, PA 17777
Phone: (570) 966-6311

Stein’s Flowers & Gifts Inc
Address: 220 Market St, Lewisburg, PA 17837
Phone: (570) 524-9933

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