this year was different for me than most. When I was a child, Easter meant
going to church and also a basket of goodies from the Easter Bunny
! This year the weekend was primarily about a funeral. Since it was a Hmong funeral
, it encompassed the entire weekend and with only a few hours of sleep since the overnight
ceremonies (click here for more information about Hmong funerals)
, my wife will join the burial procession on this Monday morning.
Aside from a single Easter, I've learned that there are many differences between my culture and my wife's culture. It has at times, lead to difficulties as I have no good reference point to make sense of 3 to 4 day (and night) funerals, among a lengthy list of other practices. These are heavily ingrained into the traditions, culture and spirituality of these people—who I have come to know as part of my family. A funeral service for me, occurs within a few days (not a month) and the (traditional) service itself (not counting going to the cemetery) takes about an hour.
I can't help thinking that the money, time and resources should be utilized for the living
—and yet the (traditional) Hmong believe funerals to be among the most important things in life.
While I spent only a fraction of the time my wife spent at the ceremonies, I can see that the media, such as the movie Grand Torino
, have perpetuated certain inaccuracies about the culture—like when Walt touched a child's head in the movie and created an uproar—because of some asinine idea that it would harm the child's spirit. I witnessed several Hmong people lovingly touch my son's head this weekend and I do not believe such a notion exits anywhere except in some bad
No doubt traditional ceremonies will continue to change (much to the dread of the elders) with new generations. My personal opinion is that this will largely be a good thing. If my family held rigidly to our past practices, I would be wearing Lederhosen
and eating fish cured in lye
. I'm so glad that
went away. I believe shorter, less expensive (as in not requiring a dozen cows to be slaughtered for the occasion), and less work intensive
ceremonies would be best in the modern world—as would wives that did not come with a price and polygamy
. But of course, this
is my own opinion.
A funny thing... by the second day of the funeral, my two-year-old son felt pretty comfortable at the funeral home. He saw that the men all shake hands, so he walked around shaking all of their hands and telling them his name. He walked up to the clan leader (who has a cool dragon shirt) and shook his hand. I think he impressed those guys!
Labels: children, culture