Difference in Colors of Mourning Around the World

by Taylor Evans February 25, 2022 4 min read

Mourning is a part of loss, and even when we're prepared for the loss, there's no way to predict how we'll mourn. Some people are resilient, while others will get lost in a sea of depression and grief when mourning.

Colors represent mourning across the world.

Just as you wear certain colors during a funeral, many choose certain cremation jewelry or pendants for ashes based on the colors of mourning. If you don't know the appropriate mourning colors or want to learn more about these colors worldwide, continue reading through this article.


7 Colors of Mourning Around the World


1. Black


Black attire is commonly seen in movies and at funerals across the world. The somber color is common in Western societies, where people are known to wear black to funerals. It's thought that this practice and color have been around since the time of the ancient Romans.

Western cultures wear black because it's the symbol of mourning.

However, the tradition became even more widespread when Prince Albert died. Queen Victoria deeply mourned the loss of her loved one, and she mourned her husband for a staggering 40 years. If she wasn't wearing black, she wore dark colors.

She remained in her state of mourning until her death.

When the prince died, she stopped appearing in public and always wore her mourning colors. The dedication of Queen Victoria is too much for most people to consider, but in Victorian times, widows would wear black for a year or two following their husbands' deaths.

The reason?

Queen Victoria.

You'll find many cremation jewelry bracelets and other ashes jewelry featuring dark-colored stones. In Victorian times, mourners adopted the practice of wearing black jewelry and even wore mourning:

  • Brooches
  • Rings
  • Pendants

Black is widely understood to be the color of mourning in:

  • The United States
  • Thailand
  • Tonga
  • Japan
  • Many other countries

2. White


Black may be a sign of death, yet white is the color of rebirth. You'll find that in indigenous Australia, white is worn for a period of one week to as long as six months. However, you'll also find the same practice in Eastern Asia.

In this region, people wear their white mourning clothes as a way to symbolize rebirth and purity.

Buddhism plays a significant role in people wearing white, especially in Cambodia. In Buddhism, white is a symbol of:

  • Reincarnation
  • Circle of life

In 16th-century France, white was also used for mourning periods. Mary Queen of Scots made the practice common when she would wear white after losing three of her family members.

Ironically, Queen Victoria, the same person who made black popular, requested that white be an integral part of her funeral. After 40 years of deciding to wear black to mourn Prince Albert, she had a white coffin, horses, and even a wedding veil placed over her face.


3. Red  


Red is an interesting color for mourning because most people associate it with love. However, when you go to different areas of the world, red is often a part of funeral rituals. For example:

  • Many people in South Africa wear red during their mourning periods. Sadly, the color is associated with bloodshed.
  • The people of Ghana wear red for public mourning, but there is one major caveat: it's a color that can only be worn by the deceased's immediate family. Black is worn by everyone else.

In Chinese culture, red is 100% forbidden at funerals. Why? It's seen as a color of happiness and can never be a part of a funeral.


4. Purple   


Purple is another interesting color option for mourning, and it has a lot of religious connotations behind its choice as a color for mourning. First, Catholics in Guatemala wore purple extensively during what was known as Holy Week. The week marks the period of crucifixion and resurrection.

Additionally, you'll find that purple, along with black and other dark colors, is the color of mourning in Brazil. Devout Catholics in the country have superstitions that wearing purple at a time when you're not mourning or attending a funeral is very unlucky.

In Thailand, widows are the only ones allowed to wear purple to symbolize mourning.


5. Grey


Dark grey colors are often acceptable for mourning in the countries where black is worn. However, in Papua New Guinea, grey is used in a different way. The natives will apply light grey clay to their skin when their husbands die.


6. Gold or Yellow


Ancient Egyptians often buried their pharaohs with their precious gold items. Gold is rooted deep in the culture and is what Ra, the powerful god's flesh, was made of. Many Egyptians will wear golden or yellow garments for mourning.


7. Dark Green


You won't find many people wearing dark green for mourning in today's society, but it's a color that was once immensely popular for this purpose. The color represents what is known as "half-mourning."

During Victorian times, people would wear black when their loved ones died. Often, black was worn for an entire year. Afterward, if the person was still in mourning, they would wear green as a sign of half-mourning.

How would you tell if green was just for mourning only?

The half-mourning attire featured black trim that was an indicator that the person was in mourning. Since most people at the time were in a mourning period for two years, green was often worn for an entire year.

In the case of Queen Victoria, she was in what was known as a deep mourning state. Individuals in deep mourning wore black for the rest of their lives and never seemed to get over the loss of their loved ones.

Mourning around the world is celebrated with different colors. Our GetUrns Harmony collection brings out the beauty of art with colors and designs that help people mourn with a stunning collection of urns.

We touch on all of the mourning colors to help you mourn your loved one in a new, unique way.

Click here to view our Harmony collection.

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