Both in Europe and the United States, black is the most common color for mourning. But this is not the case in all the countries and/or religions. For example, Hinduists wear white because it symbolizes purity. In Japan, it’s a tradition for people to wear kimonos at funerals. But why do most religions wear black?
Here how it goes.
People have been wearing black for mourning since ancient times. Most historians agree that the custom began in ancient Rome where Romans wore the “toga pulla”; a piece of clothing that was the same in shape as their everyday toga (chiton) but in black color. Why were they wearing this black clothing on funerals? The truth is that we don’t really know but this tradition stuck throughout the centuries. Fast-forwarding almost 1,500 years, black clothing at funerals was popularized during the Renaissance and it skyrocketed during the early 19th century. (the article continues after the ad)
Especially during the Victorian era, not only black clothes were common, they were also mentioned in magazines as “fashion funeral” clothes. Here’s a 1835 excerpt from Cassell’s, a popular magazine at the time:
After the funeral deep mourning is worn by the widower or widow for about a year. The same is also the case with mourning for a father or mother, sons or daughter, sister or brother. Occasionally, at the end of that period, half mourning (purple) is worn by the widow or widower for about six months longer.
It’s important here to note that during those years, funeral dresses were pieces of clothing specially designed for mourning – people wore them strictly for funerals:
After that, things are self-explanatory: as years went by, black became synonymous with mourning. Since it managed to survive for 2,000 years it became a tradition itself
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Main Article Photo: The White House
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Funeral fashion has become more lax, but there are still rules | Dressed for Death: The History of Funeral Fashion | Why Do We Wear Black Funeral Attire Versus White?