What to Wear to a Catholic Funeral

The Roman Catholic faith is one of the oldest, most widespread, most well-known Western religions. This means that even if you're not Catholic yourself, it's likely you'll need to attend a funeral for a loved one who is a member of the faith. Attending a funeral is always a somber occasion, but it is especially important to dress appropriately for a Catholic funeral.

Every faith handles death in its own way. The Catholic Church, for example, views death as a transition to eternal life, and while funerals are mournful, they are also a time to celebrate the deceased person's life and pray for their soul. As such, it is important to dress in a way that shows respect for the deceased and the occasion. Here's what you should know about what to wear if you need to attend a Catholic funeral.

Traditional Attire

Roman Catholicism is steeped in ceremony and tradition, and this means there are some strong, solid rules for what to wear to a Catholic funeral. In this case, the traditional attire for a Catholic funeral is black. Black is a color of mourning, and it is a way to show respect for the deceased. Men typically wear a black suit and tie, while women wear a black dress or skirt. It is also sometimes appropriate for women to wear a black hat or veil, though this has become less common in modern times.

If you do not have any black clothing, don't worry - there are still ways you can dress appropriately for a Catholic funeral. Any dark color is acceptable, such as navy blue, dark gray, or brown. You should avoid wearing bright colors or patterns, as these can be seen as disrespectful. You should also avoid wearing anything too revealing, such as short skirts or low-cut tops. This last point is true no matter what type of Catholic event you're attending — modesty is most certainly a requirement.

Accessories and Footwear

Jewelry and other accessories can be worn to a Catholic funeral, though there are some general guidelines. Jewelry should be kept simple and tasteful. Avoid wearing anything too flashy or expensive-looking. If you typically wear a cross or other religious jewelry, it is certainly appropriate to wear it to the funeral. Be sure to avoid anything that would be considered ostentatious.

Footwear, meanwhile, follows much of the same rules. You will need to wear formal footwear if you have any, such as dress shoes for both men and women. If you don't have a pair of formal shoes, any will do as long as they're closed-toed shoes. Sandals, flip-flops, and other open-toed shoes are not considered appropriate for a funeral.

Dressing Children for Catholic Funerals

Bringing children to a funeral is always a delicate act. Extremely young children are unlikely to understand why they are there and the significance of the event. Regardless, they should also be dressed in the appropriate attire for a Catholic funeral Mass. They should avoid wearing anything too casual or revealing. If they are old enough to understand the significance of the occasion, they should be encouraged to dress in black or another dark color.

These rules are, of course, open to interpretation for infants and toddlers, as it's generally understood that there aren't many "formal dress" options for children that young. It's also often understood that bringing such very young children to a Catholic funeral might be unavoidable, especially if you can't secure childcare for the event. Parents with young children often choose to stay close to the church or funeral home exits so that they can attend to the child's needs in private whenever necessary. While it's entirely possible the child could find the formal clothes uncomfortable, causing them to be fussy, it's still considered important to have them arrive in appropriate clothing.

Other Things to Consider

Making sure you are dressed in the appropriate attire for a Catholic funeral Mass is mostly about being respectful of the solemnity of the event. However, there are other things to keep in mind, such as the weather. If a funeral is being held outdoors, for example, you may want to dress in layers so that you can adjust your clothing as needed.

Funerals occur inside churches and funeral homes, but they also can occur outside, such as at a cemetery. In inclement weather, be aware you might need a raincoat, an umbrella, or cold weather gear like a coat, hat, and gloves. These accessories should be black or dark-colored as well if possible. Remember that your primary goal is to pay respect to the deceased, so don't wear anything too flashy or ostentatious. Even a bright red scarf could be considered too much in many cases.

Proper Attire for a Catholic Funeral Mass

Dressing appropriately for a Catholic funeral is a way to show respect for the deceased and the occasion. Funeral rites in the Catholic church are somber, dignified, and as much about providing solace to the family and friends of the deceased as it is to commemorate their beliefs that the eternal soul of the deceased has now risen into everlasting life. Anything that draws the focus away from these important aspects of the Catholic faith should be avoided.

This includes dressing in ways that aren't appropriate for an event of such gravity. Catholics in mourning are expected to wear modest, dark-colored clothes as an outward manifestation of the grief they feel from losing a loved one, but Catholics also live in the real world and know that not everyone is going to have access to a full wardrobe of dark suits and dresses. This means that there is some permissiveness in what should and shouldn't be worn to a Catholic funeral. Comporting yourself in a respectful manner is the primary concern when it comes to attending such a somber event. Keep this in mind if you need to attend one.

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