Interesting Chinese funeral customs to know about

Interesting Chinese funeral customs to know about

Interesting Chinese funeral customs to know about

Singapore may be modernised and traditional funeral customs have been simplified over the years, but they are unlikely to disappear completely. The Chinese, for instance, are one of the communities that deeply value filial piety, and continue to practise long-standing customs out of respect and duty for their deceased loved ones.

What’s more, the Chinese believe that the departed can influence the fortunes of their descendants. Certain rituals are thus carried out by grieving families in a bid for good luck. In this article, you’ll get to learn some of these interesting, and lesser-known, customs observed by the local Chinese community who are either Buddhists or Taoists.

A pearl on the deceased’s lips

Pearls, with their reflective appearance, are thought to shine the way and ensure a smooth journey through the netherworld. Some also believe that by placing a pearl on the deceased’s lips, it will prevent the deceased from saying the wrong things in front of the deities who rule the netherworld.

No sealing of caskets after sunset

After the deceased have been dressed and prepared at the funeral home, they will be sent to the wake location where the casket-sealing ceremony takes place. And this is usually done when the sky is still bright. The idea is that performing the ritual after dark will bring bad fortune to surviving descendants.

Feeding the deceased

A feeding ritual may be performed before the casket-sealing ceremony. This is a symbolic practice in the sense that grieving children and grandchildren do not actually offer food to their departed loved ones. Instead, they are simply required to touch the food with their chopsticks and lightly put the chopsticks to their loved ones’ lips. The feeding ritual is a way for descendants to show their gratitude towards a deceased parent or grandparent for bringing them up.

Leaving money for descendants

Have you heard of the term “shou wei qian” (手尾钱)? Families can prepare any amount of money in a red packet and the funeral crew will assist to place the red packet in the hands of the deceased. During the shou wei qian ritual, the money will then be returned to the family to be distributed among themselves. This age-old tradition symbolises that the deceased has left behind wealth for the family and that they will be prosperous for generations to come. Since shou wei qian is a representation of wealth, it must be safekept and cannot be spent.

Want to learn more about customs, rituals, and all things related to the death care industry? Check back for more articles to feed your curiosity right here at Funeral Insider! For help with planning a funeral according to your religion and beliefs, please email us at or call our 24/7 helpline at +65 6555 1115.