As well, in some cultures, men and women are treated differently.
In order to come to a more clear and knowledgeable understanding on this subject matter, we will be thoroughly investigating and appropriating the funeral customs of two cultures in particular: Hispanics and Italians. The aim of this paper is to thoroughly discuss all of the key elements involved in Hispanic and Italian funerals; the customs, the beliefs, the traditions, as well as any and all other key elements in regards to this. By doing this, we will come to a more intellectual and understanding viewpoint on the issue at hand. This is what will be dissertated in the following.
According to the U.S. Census 2000, the largest minority population belongs to people of Hispanic origin. Although this population might share the same language - Spanish - they might be of any race. Furthermore, their spiritual belief systems might vary depending upon their current or historic country of origin. Therefore, as they plan for honoring the departure of their loved ones, cultural differences will often times emerge and will therefore need to be considered.
Hispanics are often more accepting of death because it is such a part of their religion and heritage. In fact, Mexico and Puerto Rico observe The Day of the Dead each year. Like African Americans, for example, Hispanics express their grief openly at funerals, with most customs following the Orthodox-Catholic service. Some, however, reflect earlier influences. "For example, small yellow flowers strewn about the house or on the path to the cemetery mirror Aztec traditions for Mexican Americans." (Planner, 2006).
In regards to Italian funeral customs, there are few similarities with many more significant differences. The Italian village system of behavior surrounding death and burial has endured through the Italians' emigration, with the most striking characteristic of the persisting funeral pattern being that of the fact that the pattern itself is in fact borrowed. The rural Italian family will deprive itself of limited comforts and will sacrifice any small reserve it might have accumulated in order to pay for the funeral expenses including new clothes for the deceased. "In fact, behavior surrounding death and burial so permeates daily life in the rural south that the peasants may be described as 'death oriented'." (Moss & Thompson, 1959, pp.35-41).
Funeral expenditures are considered to be a necessity, however regardless of disproportion to the other expenses of life. In order to calm the soul, useful objects such as cigarettes and matches and small change are placed near the body, and objects which the deceased had been particularly fond of are sent with him in the casket. "If something of importance was forgotten it would often be sent in the casket of another villager who died later with hope that the two souls would meet." (Mathias, n.d.). As well, in order that the soul would not be able to find its way back into the house if it returned, the body was always carried out by the feet first; by not seeing the door as it left it would not be able to locate it again later. Once the funeral itself is over, the mattress of the deathbed is taken out and washed and a meal is brought from a neighbor's house for the family and close friends. It is with this meal that the acts directly concerned with the funeral are ended. "From now on the soul will be assisted