You might be wondering, "What should I wear to a funeral that follows the Greek Orthodox tradition?"
When deciding what to wear, there are no hard and fast rules, but there are certain customs to keep in mind.
When you live in a region that is rich in diversity, you are more likely to interact with people who come from a variety of ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, and religious persuasions.
Funeral services are conducted in a manner that is specific to each religious tradition.
For instance, there are some Catholics who would rather have the priest keep a low profile during the Mass. The Protestants will hold their service with hymns sung by a choir.
People who are not religious might decide not to wear black at all as a way to show respect for their own beliefs regarding death or for practical reasons, such as those who work with materials that are sensitive to colour or who prefer to have natural light fall on them rather than artificial lighting.
Members of the Greek Orthodox Church take solace in the knowledge that death is not the end and that life continues on forever.
It is the doctrine of the Greek Orthodox Church that in the life that comes after death, the soul is reunited with the body and with Christ. According to this doctrine, a person who has passed away has not merely passed away; rather, he has "fallen asleep."
They believe that life will continue forever and that the soul will eventually be reunited with Christ as well as the body. This offers hope in the midst of loss.
What exactly should you anticipate if you were to go to a funeral that was held in a Greek Orthodox Church?
When someone who was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church passes away, you can anticipate encountering strong faith as well as a solid community base. This is what you can expect to find. Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals will always find creative ways to pull costs in line with your budget.
You will also be provided with support as well as space to grieve in. The moment of one's passing is a holy moment and a chance for spiritual introspection. While you are grieving, it is also a time to express your feelings and offer praise to the deceased.
FAQs About Funerals
Greek Orthodox funerals can be more formal and structured than other religious practices. It's helpful to ask questions before attending so that you can be prepared and respectful.
Many people will say, "May you have an abundant life," "Memory eternal," or "May his or her memory be eternal."
If you are not Greek Orthodox and don't feel comfortable saying these things, that's okay. You might consider saying, "May his/her memory live on. I will be thinking of you during your time of grief."
A bit longer than the average funeral length, A Greek Orthodox funeral service is about 90 minutes long.
The church ceremony is about one hour, and the burial is about 30 minutes. A luncheon is optional and lasts around one to three hours.
It's up to the family, but it will be listed in the obituary if there is a memorial fund. Donations go straight to the Greek Orthodox church.
The standard donation amount is $25 – $50. Some families may give more if they are members of the Church.
Yes, you are welcome to say your final goodbye to the deceased. If you belong to a different religious faith, it's not required.
Seeing the physical body for the last time can provide closure — but it's up to you whether you approach the casket.
What Is the Orthodox Church?
The Orthodox Church is the second-largest Christian congregation after the Catholic Church. It is also known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church.
Eastern Orthodoxy is a religious tradition that is followed by people all over the world, especially in Greece, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
Greek Orthodox Beliefs About Death and Dying
When a person passes away, followers of the Greek Orthodox religion believe that their soul and body become distinct.
The body is returned to the earth where it rots away, but the soul does not lose its connection to its former home. The soul does not "go back" to heaven after death; rather, it immediately encounters God and waits for the resurrection of the body.
In contrast to the beliefs held by other branches of Christianity in the West, Eastern Orthodoxy adherents have a distinctive perspective on what happens after death.
The concept of Heaven and Hell, as adherents of Greek Orthodox Christianity understand it, refers more to states of mind than they do to physical locations.
People who have a negative view of God have a negative interpretation of his immortal existence, whereas people who have a positive view of God have a positive interpretation of his eternal presence in the afterlife.
Body and Soul Are One
At the time of conception, both the soul and the body are said to be created together, according to the teachings of the Greek Orthodox church.
Despite the fact that they are separated at the time of death, the soul and the body will one day be resurrected, spiritualized, and united in order to spend eternity together in the kingdom of God.
Because of this, followers of the Greek Orthodox faith do not cremate the bodies of their departed family members and friends.
What to Wear to an Orthodox Funeral
When entering a church that adheres to certain strains of Eastern Orthodoxy, you will be expected to dress in a respectful manner. This indicates that you should not expose an excessive amount of skin and instead cover your arms and legs.
If you are attending an Orthodox funeral, the majority of the time you should dress formally and in dark colours, unless the family of the deceased specifically instructs you otherwise.
Attendees are expected to dress in sombre, subdued attire. Dress attire for both men and women consists of dresses. Men wear suits with ties. Covering one's arms and legs is something that both men and women are encouraged to do by the Church.
At an Orthodox funeral, it is very important to extend condolences to the deceased's family.
In this particular faith, expressing sympathy and praying for the deceased is a time-honored custom. The visitation with the family should take place either immediately after the burial service or during the luncheon that immediately follows the burial.
The luncheon is referred to by its proper name, Makaria, and it typically consists of fish.
At the conclusion of the funeral service, attendees file up to the coffin to say their final farewells to the deceased. It is customary to bend the knee and kiss the cross or other object that is placed on the coffin.
Whether or not there are pews available, the congregation stands during the service. Everyone, with the exception of the elderly and those who have trouble standing, should pay attention to this.
However, those who are in mourning are not required to wear black as a sign of their mourning in the Orthodox Church.
Even though this practise is followed by some Orthodox Christians and is deeply ingrained in the traditions of a great number of different nations and cultures around the world, the Orthodox Church does not consider it to be a doctrine or a requirement. Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funeral Directors are here to help make the funeral process as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your loved ones.
Because our mourning is observed in the hope that we hold in the resurrection and the eternal life that God promises those who place their faith and hope in His love—hope that is best signified by white, rather than black—one generally finds that the clergy wear white rather than black at funerals. This is because our mourning is observed in the hope that we hold in the resurrection and the eternal life that God promises those who place their faith and hope in His love.
Dos and Don'ts of a Greek Orthodox Funeral
The following are some dos and don'ts when attending a Greek Orthodox funeral service.
- Dressing in a sombre and dark manner is appropriate for women. The gentlemen ought to dress in dark jackets and ties.
- Be sure to leave your mark in the guest book.
- At the service, there will be ushers who can direct you to the appropriate seats. If you arrive late, enter quietly.
- Please refrain from taking photos or making any other kind of recording during the service.
- Participate actively by standing when the rest of the congregation does so.
- Please extend your condolences and greetings to the family.
- After the funeral, you should consider paying the grieving family a quick visit at their place of residence.
What to Expect at an Orthodox Funeral
Everyone who is present at an Orthodox funeral service is expected to remain standing the entire time, with the obvious exception of those who have difficulty doing so due to factors such as age or disability.
After the service, mourners are encouraged to approach the casket to pay their final respects to the deceased. If someone is a member of another faith, they should not feel obligated to kiss the icon or cross that is placed in the coffin even though members of the Orthodox Church may choose to do so.
Greek Orthodox Pre-Service Rituals
When someone in the Church has died, the family will:
- Both the local parish priest and a funeral home should be informed of the death.
- Discuss and arrange all of the aspects of the funeral prayer service with the priest.
- Once the arrangements have been finalised, it is important to communicate its wishes to the funeral home.
- After the funeral home and the Church have settled on a date for the service, you should write the obituary.
In accordance with Eastern Orthodox rituals, the family will assist in preparing the deceased's body.
In other words, as soon as the person has passed away, members of the family will wash and dress the body. This is typically carried out in the presence of a priest.
After the body has been placed inside the casket, the priest will sprinkle holy water over the casket and bless it. There are some modern Orthodox families who choose to have the funeral home prepare the body for the wake rather than doing it themselves.
After the body has been cleaned and prepared, a priest will preside over a prayer service known as the Panikhida. This marks the beginning of a wake that will last for three days. Recitations taken from the Book of Psalms are made by members of the celebrant's family and other close friends.
A Trisagion is a prayer service that is performed by a priest either immediately following the death or the night before the funeral. It takes place either on the day of the funeral or the night before.
It is also possible for a Trisagion to take place at the gravesite after the service and memorial days that have been designated by the Church.
The prayers are conducted in a call-and-response fashion and are led by a priest.
Attendees include members of the family as well as the congregation from the church. Either the deceased person's house or the funeral home can serve as the location for the first Trisagion ceremony.
The phrase "Holy God, holy and mighty, holy immortal one, have mercy upon us" is one of the lines that are recited.
The Trisagion is a prayer asking for mercy not only for those who have passed away but also for those who are still alive.
Preparing for the Funeral
The services typically consist of a wake as well as a funeral mass that is held in a church. Cremation is forbidden, just like in many other traditional forms of the Christian faith.
Cremation is considered a sin in the Greek Orthodox Church because of its emphasis on the doctrine of bodily resurrection.
Readings are typically recited by members of the family, who may also be asked to carry the casket. The only person who is permitted to recite prayers inside of the church and deliver the eulogy is the priest.
Funeral Service and Traditions
The funeral service and traditions follow a specific order. Visit Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals to know more about our prepaid funeral service and find the best funeral option for your unique situation.
The planning of a funeral is difficult in any family, regardless of the customs and rituals that are practised in that family. After the death of a loved one, there are many other responsibilities that may fall on your shoulders. Check out our post-loss checklist if you'd like some assistance and direction while you're going through the process.
Chanting of Psalm 119
The chanting of the Amomos, which means "blameless" in Greek, is the first part of the funeral service.
Psalm 119 begins with the words, "Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord." [Psalm 119:1]
Following the recitation of the Amomos, a brief litany containing prayers for the departed is recited.
Funeral Praises: Evlogetaria
The Evlogetaria comes immediately following the recitation of Psalm 119.
These are praise hymns that are chanted with a solemn tone, and they contain theologically-based content. Psalm 119:12 is recited at the beginning of each Evlogetaria. "Blessed are You, Lord, teach me Your statutes," it says in the Bible.
The music played at a funeral in an Orthodox service is not given a significant amount of importance. During certain services, the choir or the priest might lead the congregation in singing hymns. There is a possibility that the Trisagion will be sung at the end of the church service.
The Kontakion is chanted immediately following the Evlogetaria. Its text reads as follows: "With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to your servant's soul where there is no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting."
During the singing of the hymn, the priest will sprinkle incense over the body of the deceased, as well as those who are present, the altar table, and any icons that are present.
Hymns of the Eight Tones
The chanting of the Kontakion is followed by the singing of hymns known as the Idiomela. These hymns express the conflicting feelings of sorrow and consolation as an affirmation of the promise of eternal life and rest for the departed.
Each hymn is sung in the order that corresponds to one of the eight tones that are characteristic of Byzantine chant.
The church's belief in the reality of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, as well as the resurrection of the body of the deceased so that it can be reunited with the soul, is reflected in the service by the reading of two passages from the Bible.
Prayers and Dismissal
After the readings from the Bible, the priest will recite a litany from earlier in the service and then say a prayer for the deceased person's eternal rest.
The hope of the resurrection is mentioned once more in the prayer that is said before the service is dismissed. Following the recitation of this prayer, the attendees will sing "May your memory be eternal."
The Kiss of Peace
As members of the family and other individuals come forwards to view the body, the final farewell greeting to the person who has passed away comes after the prayer of dismissal.
Hymns are sung, and the audience is encouraged to give a kiss to the person who has passed away as a sign of their love for the departed as well as an affirmation that the person was deserving of God's promises.
Greek Funeral Flowers
There are numerous events where flowers are present. Funerals typically feature a variety of white flowers in vases and arrangements.
White is the traditional colour associated with mourning, and white lilies are a symbol of peace. In honour of a person who has passed away, friends and members of the church will frequently send flowers and plants.
During the prayer service that is held at the gravesite, flowers are typically distributed to attendees. Following the service, it is customary for each person to bow and then lay a flower that they brought on top of the casket.
After the members of the deceased person's family and any other individuals who wish to pay their respects have done so, the priest will anoint the body of the deceased person with oil and sprinkle the body with earth while saying the words, "to earth you shall return."
After that, the lid is placed back on the casket, and everyone in attendance is given the opportunity to pay their respects to the family while greeting them in the front pew.
The practise of cremation is not allowed in Orthodox funerals. If the deceased was cremated, the family may not be permitted to hold a funeral service in accordance with their religious beliefs. However, embalming is permitted prior to the burial in order to preserve the body.
Following the conclusion of the funeral service, the family, the priest, and any other attendees will travel to the cemetery. When they have arrived at their destination, the priest will recite the Trisagion.
Before the coffin is sealed, members of the deceased person's family and close friends pay their respects by circling around it. Following the singing of the Trisagion Hymn once more, there will be a procession to the cemetery.
Before the burial takes place, the priest may represent various passages from sacred texts by pouring olive oil and earth in the shape of a cross on top of the coffin.
Wheat is another option that might be served, particularly if the meal is based on Slavic or Arabic customs.
During the prayer service that is held at the gravesite, flowers are typically distributed to attendees.
Before the body is lowered into the grave to await the resurrection, the priest will traditionally sprinkle soil in the shape of a cross on top of the casket, and everyone in attendance will lay a single flower on top of the coffin.
Meal of Mercy
The deceased's family members and other congregants will prepare a making, also known as a "Meal of Mercy."
In the immediate aftermath of the funeral, the Meal of Mercy can take place in a restaurant, the church hall, or even the residence of the person who passed away.
After an Orthodox Funeral and Orthodox Mourning Periods
It is customary for Orthodox Christians to observe a period of mourning lasting forty days, during which time they refrain from attending public gatherings and wear only black clothing. The Greek Orthodox Church requires a widow or widower to wear only black for a year or even two years after the death of their spouse.
After a death in the family, it is common practise for the bereaved to take a week off from work. After this period of mourning has passed, memorial services are held after three months, six months, nine months, and on the anniversary of the passing of each year for a minimum of seven years.
The actual practices of individual Greek families and congregations may vary.
However, traditional Greek Orthodox funeral rituals are highly choreographed and participatory. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide Orthodox funeral services.
Those who follow the Greek Orthodox faith approach death with the firm conviction that the deceased person's soul has not left the body; rather, the body is simply resting in preparation for its reunion with the soul, and the deceased person's loved ones will be reunited with them in God's kingdom.
Even many years after the passing of a loved one, the family continues to remember and memorialise their passing.