Have you ever questioned the suitability of wearing red to a funeral?

Red is symbolically rich, representing happiness, prosperity, and good luck, often seen in festive and celebratory events like Chinese New Year. Given its vibrant and lively connotations, wearing red to a funeral is disrespectful and inappropriate.

This article helps you understand funeral etiquette as well as the cultural and religious norms surrounding wearing red to a funeral, mainly focusing on the traditions of Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Roman Catholic, and Soka Gakkai religions.

Buddhist Traditions

The colour red is generally considered inappropriate for Buddhist funerals, as the colour represents life and celebration instead of mourning and remembrance. Funeral attendees usually prefer white or muted attire to pay their respects, reflecting a sense of peace and reverence.

However, as the interpretations of Buddhism can vary widely, some communities may not strictly adhere to these norms. In such instances, it is imperative to understand the specific traditions of the deceased’s family and act accordingly.


Taoist Traditions

Taoist funeral customs also lean towards more subdued tones, symbolising solemnity and respect. Red, a symbol of happiness and luck, is typically avoided as it contradicts the essence of the mourning period.

Nonetheless, the diverse nature of Taoist practices means variations do exist. Being mindful and inquiring about the preferences of the deceased’s family can help choose the appropriate attire and avoid any unintended disrespect.


Christian And Roman Catholic Traditions

In Christian funerals and Roman Catholic funerals, the attire is conventionally sombre, with black being the most commonly worn colour, representing mourning and loss. The vibrant and lively connotations of red make it an unsuitable choice for such solemn occasions.

However, as customs evolve, some families may prefer a celebration of life approach to funerals and may allow or even encourage more colourful attire. It is always best to communicate with the family and understand their wishes. You can also read this guide on what to expect at a Catholic funeral


Soka Traditions

With Soka funerals, the emphasis is on respecting the deceased and their family’s wishes. Traditional attire tends to be conservative and understated, avoiding loud colours like red that signify joy and prosperity.

Adherence to the family’s preferences is crucial, and any variations from the norm should be approached with sensitivity and respect.

When Is It Okay To Wear Red Clothes To A Funeral Service?

In certain situations, wearing red may be acceptable, especially when the deceased had expressed a preference for a colourful celebration of their life. 

It’s important to be receptive to the family’s guidelines and to choose attire that aligns with their wishes, such as opting for dark clothing, neutral colours, or muted tones if wearing bright colours is deemed inappropriate. Or, read this article for a more detailed guide on what to wear to a wake

What Should You Do If You Want To Wear Red Clothes To A Funeral?

If you desire to wear red clothing at a funeral service, it is essential to approach the situation with utmost respect and consideration. Here are three suggestions to ensure your attire choices do not detract from the solemnity of the occasion.

1. Inquire With The Deceased’s Family Members

Before deciding to wear red, it’s of the utmost importance to communicate with the family members of the deceased. Their wishes and preferences should guide your choice of attire. Understanding their perspective and adhering to their preferences shows consideration and respect for their feelings during a challenging time.

2. Wear Dark Red Clothing 

If you feel strongly about wearing red, consider choosing more subdued or darker shades like maroon or burgundy, which might be less inappropriate. 

Even then, dark red colours should only be worn after receiving the approval of the deceased’s family, ensuring your attire remains respectful and not drawing attention for the wrong reasons.

3. Consider Accessorising With Red Instead

If wearing red is significant to you, incorporate red accessories into your outfit rather than a full bright red attire. A subtle hint of red, such as a handkerchief, pin or red pocket square, can be a compromise, allowing you to honour your feelings or traditions without overshadowing the occasion’s solemnity.

Again, obtaining the family members’ consent is crucial to maintaining a respectful environment. Remember, attending a funeral is about paying respects and showing compassion to the grieving family; therefore, one’s attire should be chosen with care and consideration, keeping the family’s sentiments and cultural or religious norms in mind. 

Conclusion About Why You Can’t Wear Red To A Funeral

The choice of funeral attire is a subtle yet significant way to show respect to the deceased and their family. While red, with its vibrant and lively symbolism, is generally deemed inappropriate for funerals, exceptions exist, and traditions vary widely among different religions and cultures. 

Understanding and respecting the wishes of the deceased’s family is paramount, and when in doubt, opting to wear black or dark colours, neutral colours, or muted tones is always a safe choice.

If you need funeral services in Singapore, do not hesitate to contact Casket Fairprice. Our experienced funeral directors are here to help you navigate this difficult time with compassion and respect.

Frequently Asked Questions About Why You Can’t Wear Red To A Funeral

Is It Okay To Wear Maroon To A Funeral?

Maroon, being a darker shade of red, may be more acceptable, but it’s always safest to confirm with the family first.

Which Cultures Wear Red To Funerals?

Interestingly, there are cultures where wearing red to a funeral is acceptable and significant. In South Africa and Ghana, red is often worn to symbolise both mourning and celebration of life. In these cultures, wearing red is a way to pay homage to the deceased’s vitality and existence.

Is Wearing Red Nail Polish Considered Disrespectful At A Funeral?

Wearing red nail polish could potentially be perceived as disrespectful at a funeral. To maintain a respectful and considerate demeanour, it is recommended to opt for more subdued, neutral nail colours, or to forego nail polish altogether.

Can You Wear Red Lipstick To A Funeral?

While traditionally, more subdued and neutral colours are advised for funerals, the appropriateness of red lipstick can depend mainly on the cultural context and the family’s wishes. If you choose to wear red lipstick, opt for a more subdued, darker red shade, rather than a bright, vibrant one.