Preparing Food for a Wake

Posted by Tallon on September 2, 2015


In many countries when someone dies, some sort of wake is held. The form of the wake depends on the religion of the family involved and the customs of the country in which they live. In most cases, the wake involves friends and family who knew the deceased staying with the family and the body of the deceased.

The customs surrounding wakes are changing. For example, in Spain, the custom up to a few years ago was to sit with the body in the home of the deceased. Today, the body is taken to a funeral home, and the family may take a break to go home and eat. In years gone by, neighbours would have brought food to the family’s home.

Most funeral customs involve food in some form. In America, people bring food when they visit the family before the funeral. Usually the wake that is held afterwards also involves food for the guests. In the UK there is normally a wake held after the funeral again food is normally served.

Preparing food for a funeral


Given the importance of food at a funeral, we thought we would briefly cover the subject.

Follow the customs

The first thing you need to do is to bear in mind and follow the customs of your family and country. In some countries, there are traditional dishes that are served at this time and other foods are forbidden. It is easy to cause offence by not following these customs.

Food for everyone

You need to think about who is attending the funeral and provide food that is suitable for everyone to eat. Bear in mind people who are suffering from food allergies and intolerance. These days it is wise to avoid serving food that contains nuts.

Think about the age of the people that will be attending the funeral too. A buffet works well for most funerals, but if a lot of the people that will be attending are very elderly getting to the buffet and serving themselves could be difficult. In that situation, it might be a good idea to hire a waiter or serve sandwiches that can more easily be passed around.

Do not leave yourself too much to do

Providing a funeral tea can be a lot of work. The funeral is going to be a busy and stressful day for you anyway, so it is important not to leave yourself too much to do.
Enlist the help of friends and family and try to prepare as much as you can in advance. Often the best approach is to buy most of the food from your local supermarket rather than make it all yourself. This is helpful in another way. You never know for sure how many people will attend the funeral tea. If you buy some of the food in it is possible to keep some in the fridge to get out later and serve more people as they arrive and there is no waste.