A funeral will vary according to the culture, family preference and dictates of the church to which the deceased belonged. A Scottish funeral, for example, is similar to that of the Irish because of their proximity in Western Europe and their similar Gaelic cultural background. The funeral processions are comparable and both serve refreshments to the attendees.
In the 19th Century, Scottish burial customs included opening the windows so the soul could depart easily. Mirrors were covered and clocks stopped, supposedly to mislead the ghosts. People placed salt in wooden bowls inside the coffins to combat rigor mortis. Some of these ideas could be used today if one chooses to follow old traditions.
A family member of the deceased should contact a funeral home to make the necessary preparation arrangements. The ceremony can be held at the funeral parlor or grave site. Other ideas are to have the ceremony at home or in an outdoor park setting. The eldest son traditionally sends personal invitations to family and friends inviting them to the funeral ceremony. You can also list funeral details in the local newspaper.
A bagpiper customarily leads the mourners from the church to the graveside while playing slow marches. As the coffin is lowered, the piper plays a song of mourning. In a crematorium service, the piper usually plays "The Flowers O the Forest" as the mourners arrive. If a bagpiper is not available, an alternative idea is to use taped music such as "Highland Cathedral."
Ideas for the hearse may include a black hearse, a horse and cart, a silver and white hearse or even a motorcycle hearse. Tartan or plaid strips of ribbons may be tied to the hearse.
One idea is to send any kind of flowers or condolence cards to the funeral home to be shown at the wake. Another idea is to display a poster of pictures from the life of the deceased. You can also place a large envelope near the coffin for visitors to put notes for the family.
Ideas for the Ceremony
Ask members of the family if they want to participate in the service. A suggestion would be for someone to read a poem by the Scottish poet, Robert Louis Stevenson. A family member might opt to recite "The Lord's Prayer" or sing "Amazing Grace." A Gaelic blessing is another idea for concluding the service.
"Deep peace of the running waves to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you. Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you. Amen."
You might ask that the church bells be rung at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Ideas for Appropriate Dress
Family members and those of Scottish decent may wear kilts and clan tartans in honor of the deceased's heritage. Another suggestion is for men to wear suits and ties and women black dresses or black pants.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, mourners are invited back to the home for refreshments. The food for the reception can include favorite dishes of the deceased. You can serve oatmeal biscuits with soda or bread and cheeses. For something more elaborate, add typical Scottish dishes such as meat pies, sausages, fish and chips or haggis, a Scottish specialty of liver or sheep's heart and lungs stuffed in a casing. Whiskey and drinks should be available.
- Free Pages Folklore: Scottish Burial Customs
- Bryce McCulloch: Event Ideas for a Highland Bagpiper
- Alternative Ceremony: Green Funerals in Scotland
- "An Interview with a Scottish Member of St. Andrews Scottish Organization": Scottish Funerals Today
- Scottish Piper Playing image by Ray Carpenter from Fotolia.com