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  • Lesson 3: Religious and Ethnic Considerations

    Be knowledgeable about the various ceremonial rites and cultural taboos of religious and ethnic backgrounds. In many cases, the family itself may not be aware of the proper etiquette. Make a point to visit with religious leaders in your town to learn about their traditions and to discover if any flowers or tributes would be deemed inappropriate.

    Protestant funeral
    Protestant funerals are the most common funerals in the United States. After visiting with the family, the pastor will often design a special service for the individual rather than following a particular book of worship. Generally, a visitation period with open or closed casket is followed by the funeral service, where the casket is usually closed. Flowers are a traditional gift of sympathy.

    Roman Catholic funeral
    In most cases Roman Catholic funerals follow traditional guidelines. A wake will be held the evening before the funeral services, usually with an open casket. Family and friends often send flowers for the wake. During the funeral service the casket is usually closed. As a florist, you may need to assist the funeral director with the flowers, since the service begins at the funeral home, moves to the church for mass and concludes at the gravesite.

    Jewish funeral
    Although sending flowers for Jewish services is not always appropriate (check in advance with your local synagogue), there are ways, as a florist, we can help family and friends express their sympathy. It is traditional to send a basket of ready-to-eat food to the family. Take care in packing the gourmet basket; neither alcohol nor meat is an appropriate gift to include in the basket.

    Give special consideration to the size and style of arrangements for children. Families often will include a picture or special toy as part of the tribute.

    Military Funeral
    A military funeral may include a visitation before the services (depending on the wishes of the family). Some may include a service at a chapel, but most military ceremonies will be conducted at the grave. Although the United States flag is generally draped over the casket, if there are flowers on the casket a military representative will hold the flag. The military unit will send a floral arrangement. In the case of a cremation, the urn and flag will each be held by a military representative.

    Public Figures
    With a local funeral for a public figure, prepare your shop for an abundance of out-of-town wire orders. Many of these orders may request special flowers not available in time for the services, or for tribute designs that are not appropriate for your area. Assign one person in your shop to monitor these incoming wire orders. This employee can watch for specific requests for flowers that are not available or for tribute designs not appropriate for your region. If a specific request needs to be modified or changed, call or fax the sending florist for an "OK" to change the order. The best way to handle the overflow of wire orders is to prepare in advance. Develop an understanding with other florists in your town or neighboring communities to handle overflow orders in special situations. You may want to agree to "loan" each other designers to handle the overflow orders.

    Cremation with Traditional Funeral – In the case of a cremation with a traditional funeral, services are held that may or may not include open casket viewing. Flowers required for such a service would include the same as those for a traditional funeral service.

    Cremation with Memorial Service – The memorial service may include the cremation urn, flowers, pictures or other mementos for the service.

    • Determine if an urn will be included in the memorial service. If so, work with the funeral director to find out how the urn will be displayed so that an appropriate arrangement may be designed. 
    • Encourage friends and family to send flowers to the deceased's immediate family as well.

    Direct Cremation – A direct cremation excludes any funeral services or memorial services.  Although this is not the norm, it is a growing trend in the funeral industry for which florists must prepare.

    •  Encourage friends and family to send flowers to the deceased's immediate family.


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