Frazer Blog

Cultural Spotlight: Swiss Funeral Traditions

by | Jul 5, 2019 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

St. Pierre Cathedral Switzerland

Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.

But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.

This article looks at Swiss funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Nepalese funeral traditions and  Nicaraguan funeral traditions, among others.

Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.

Religious Beliefs

Roman Catholicism is the most common religion in Switzerland with 37.2% of the population. The next two most common religions are the Swiss Reformed Church at 25% and unaffiliated at 24%. For this reason, those who are unaffiliated with a religion may have a non-religious funeral ceremony.

Death Superstitions

The Swiss people have a few old superstitions about death. One is to take the tile off of the roof where someone died. This way, the deceased’s soul can be free. Another superstition back during the end of the 19th century involved lemons. Men carried a lemon in their hat and held it under their left arm. Then, they put the lemon by their loved one’s gravesite.

Swiss Funeral Customs

For a Swiss funeral, it used to be more of a social event, but not so much today. Funeral processions and mourning clothing also aren’t as common anymore. Now, it’s more of a private event for family and friends rather than the entire community. The family also may send invitations to the funeral and post-funeral reception, often held at a local restaurant or café.

Depending on your religious beliefs, the funeral may be held at a church with a priest or at another location with a life celebrant. For expressing condolences with flowers, white chrysanthemums and white asters typically are for funerals.

Burial or Cremation

Swiss people may choose burial or cremation as their end-of-life arrangement, depending on their religious, cultural, and personal preferences. Although, cremation is becoming more popular than burial. One reason for this shift is that more people are identifying as unaffiliated with a specific religion.

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