Posted by Paul West on 11th May 2015
It is a fact of life that at some point you will be required to attend a funeral, whether that of a loved one, or ultimately your own! The modern funeral has evolved somewhat from its early roots but still represents a ceremony that celebrates, commemorates, respects, and remembers the life of the deceased. Funeral customs vary wildly depending on religious denomination, beliefs and practices adopted by different cultures and families. Although many religious practices adhere to stringent rules, many funerals have relaxed rules, often at the behest of the deceased.
The wearing of what is viewed as ‘traditional’ plain, black clothing can be traced back to the Roman Empire, when the toga pulla made of dark-coloured wool was worn during periods of mourning. Distinctive mourning clothing was displayed for personal or general loss during the Middle Ages, where women often wore distinctive black caps and veils, a forerunner of todays’ more fashionable veil attire. In certain countries, the loss of a loved one or being widowed means dressing in black for the rest of your life. Rural areas of Italy, Spain, and Mexico still uphold this tradition today, whereas other family members are obliged to dress in black for a limited time.
19th century England adopted mourning rules that were strictly enforced by society. Upper class families forced women to adorn heavy black clothing that often consisted of heavy layers accompanied by a heavy veil made of crepe. The Old English word for ‘garment’ was ‘Waed’, hence the entire ensemble was commonly referred to as Widow’s Weeds. In time, the veils were often replaced with large bonnets and mourning caps (always in black, of course) and special jewellery emerged on the scene. Lockets and jewellery that contained locks of the deceased’s hair were common.
There are several origins of the idiom, “To wear your heart on your sleeve.” One of the favourites is again medieval in origin. A Knight would joust in honour of a lady in the crowd during King’s tournaments. He would obtain a belonging of hers, popularly a handkerchief, and tie it around his arm to symbolise his fight to defend her honour in the competition. The wearing of a black armband was a popular choice by military members unable to wear the customary mourning attire during service. This custom became common with extended family and friends of the deceased, especially household staff at the passing of a member of the house. The black armband is still worn by professional sports teams upon the passing of an ex-player and American police forces wear a black band across their shield upon the loss of a member.
Nowadays, men often wear a black suit and tie while women will wear a dark coloured dress or similar. Less formal funerals have become the norm with mourners asked to wear something in honour of the deceased, i.e. their favourite colour or a favourite sports team’s shirt. A common request here at Make Badges is for funeral badges to commemorate a loved one. It is a common request from New Zealand and Maori families looking to offer mourners an item to treasure in their family history. Turnaround time on these custom-made badges is often tight but we offer a service for pick-up or courier delivery in approximately two working days. If you wish to design your own custom-made commemorative funeral badges and require further information, please feel free to contact us.
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