Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.
But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at Honduran funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Tongan funeral traditions and Ugandan funeral traditions, among others.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.
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Cultural and Religious Beliefs
Most Honduran people are Christians, with 48.7% identifying as Catholics, as of 2013. Most people believe in the afterlife, along with some superstitions revolving around death — especially one called the hejillo. They believe if you touch the deceased and don’t wash yourself afterward, you could get some type of mysterious contamination. So if you touch the body, you must wash yourself as soon as possible afterward to purify yourself.
Before a Honduran funeral, there is an all-night wake with the body present. It’s held at the deceased’s home or one of their family members’ homes. The whole community is invited, so it can end up being a large event.
There is food and drinks for everyone, typically made by family and friends of the deceased’s immediate family. Everyone should stay awake all night to keep the deceased’s spirit company. They also light candles to help guide the deceased’s spirit to the spirit world.
Honduran Funeral Service and Burial
With many people identifying as Catholics, a Honduran funeral service typically follows Catholic traditions. After the funeral service, there is a funeral procession to the burial location. At the graveside, everyone may sing songs or recite prayers, but there isn’t usually a traditional graveside service.
One year and one day after the death, there is a large drum party to honor the deceased. The deceased’s family saves up funds for this celebration during the first year of their loved one’s passing. And family members who live far away can save up money to attend.
At the party, there are traditional drummers, decorations, and a lot of food and drinks. People may bring monetary gifts, flowers, candles, food, or another significant gift. The celebration can sometimes last several days.