Hispanic funeral traditions are infused with both the vibrance of the Hispanic culture and the reverence and rituals of a strong faith. Rose Hills specializes in Hispanic and Latino funeral and burial traditions, and our bilingual professionals are here to guide you in planning a funeral and creating a lasting legacy with a permanent memorial.
Many Hispanics view death as the soul’s return home, and funerals are regarded as part of the cycle of life. As with any major event within the Hispanic community, funerals are family affairs. Many Hispanics are Catholic, and Catholic funeral and burial rites often influence the services of even non-Catholics.
Funeral rites steeped in custom
After a loved one dies, a family member usually stays with the person to keep them company and make sure they are properly prepared for the visitation, funeral and burial. Many families bring clothes to the funeral home and dress their loved ones themselves. Some fix their loved ones' hair. They may also stitch or pin images of the Virgin Mary, cherished photographs, rosaries, jewelry or poems into the fabric lining of the casket.
Tradition calls for a visitation, or wake, to take place before the funeral. For some, the visitation is a social event—a time for friends and family to come together to remember their loved one. For devoted Catholics, the visitation is a sacred vigil filled with scripture readings, eulogies, reflection and prayers. A visitation typically starts in the afternoon and lasts into the evening.
Traditional foods, such as pan dulce or pastelitos and coffee, are served. Prayers are common, and candles and flowers play an important role at the gathering. Visitations are usually held at the funeral home.
After the visitation or vigil
Catholics may choose to hold the funeral at a Catholic church; Catholics and non-Catholics alike may opt instead for one of the chapels at Rose Hills. A Catholic service will include a full mass at the family’s choice of church. It will be conducted by a priest and dedicated to the loved one; a rosary may be said. More than an expression of grief, the Catholic funeral liturgy is an act of worship—a time for family and friends to thank God for Christ's victory over sin and death and seek strength in the Paschal mystery. If your family needs a priest for a service, Rose Hills can provide one.
Colorful flowers are plentiful at Hispanic funerals. Family and friends might lay personal items and gifts in the casket prior to burial.
Rite of committal
Because many Mexicans and Central Americans believe there are days when the dead return to walk among us, some Hispanics wish to be returned to their homeland to be buried with other members of their families. If that is not the case, the burial takes place immediately after the funeral, with friends and family gathering at the cemetery to say goodbye.
For Catholics, the rite of committal is an expression of faith in the resurrection of Christ. A priest leads farewell prayers, and musicians—often mariachis—play at the gravesite. Friends and family decorate the grave with bright flowers. Afterward, they gather to eat, reminisce and comfort one other, as well as to pray for their loved one.
Cremation services and more
Cremation is uncommon among Hispanics. For those who do choose it, Rose Hills has an on-site crematorium, and cremated remains can be placed at a cemetery or church in accordance with Vatican guidelines.
In addition to traditional funeral services, Rose Hills professionals can help with themed events and funeral receptions.
Creating a lasting remembrance
In many Hispanic cultures, burial begins a new phase in which a person can help those who are still living. Many believe that even though their loved ones’ bodies are no longer alive, their spirits live on. They pray to them, talk to them and turn to them for guidance and support. Hispanic families celebrate and honor their loved ones for days or years after the funeral and burial. Traditions include:
• Novenarios – For nine consecutive days following a funeral, family and friends pray for the soul and eternal rest of their loved one. This takes place at a church or the family’s home.
• Special days – Within the Hispanic and Latino cultures, death is revered and holidays are set aside to pay special respect to the dead. Celebrations often depend on the country of origin.
• All Souls’ Day (November 2) – Families pray, remember their loved ones, attend mass and visit the cemetery to spruce up their loved ones' memorials.
• Día de los Muertos (October 31–November 2) – Families make altars honoring their loved ones, visit the cemetery with colorful flowers and food, and play music to celebrate those who have passed.
Rose Hills hosts events for families of all cultures, including an annual Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration. We welcome you to join us.
Contact Rose Hills
We are a foremost expert in Hispanic and Latino funeral traditions. To plan a funeral or memorial that will honor your cultural traditions, family preferences and loved one's wishes, download our funeral planning guide or contact an advisor today.