“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” – Alan D. Wolfelt

For humans to survive, we need water, air, shelter, and food.  Of these four, it is food that provides us with both nourishment and nurturing. It not only sustains but is an important part of our celebrations, including funerals.


Since the beginning of civilization, food has played an important role in how we remember those whom we’ve lost. In ancient Egypt, food was buried with the pharaohs along with other important belongings. Both Roman and Greek societies practiced the custom of eating after a burial, often partaking in elaborate feasts. The ancient Mayans frequently buried the deceased with maize in their mouths.  Cultural festivals such as Día de los Muertos also have food as a centerpiece of their celebrations honoring the lives of those who have gone before.


funneral potatoes
Homemade Funeral Potatoes Casserole with Cheese and Chives
Philippine potatoes
Tray of Philippine ‘Palabok’ (Pancit Luglug)
The tradition of sharing food after funerals is something that continues to this day. For the bereaved, eating alone can be sad and they may lack the energy to cook for themselves.  Besides, there is something very special, comforting, and bonding when we share meals.  It is an opportunity to recall stories of our loved ones in a safe and caring environment.


Some of the most popular foods that are shared after funerals include baked ziti, pancit or a similar pasta dish, sandwich trays, tamales, salads, meat and cheese trays, fruit and vegetable trays, sweet soup, pozole, meatballs, desserts, and other sweets such as halva and sweet bread, deviled eggs, vegetarian dishes, and something called funeral potatoes. Funeral potatoes, also known as cheesy potatoes, got their name from being consistently served at post-funeral luncheons, particularly in the culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Food journalist Jenn Rice called them “one of the most oddly satisfying dishes in America.”


For a list of some popular funeral food recipes, including funeral potatoes, please visit https://www.funeralwise.com/celebration-of-life/funeral-food-recipes/ .