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Mourning and remembrance Home   

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Mourning and remembering those who have died is an important part of most societies and cultures.

Victorian society demanded a that a strict etiquette was followed. There were rules about what could be worn, and even about what jewellery and stationery was appropriate.

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Mourning costume
A widow could be in mourning for her husband for up to 2½ years during the 19th century. She dressed in deep mourning for a year and a day. Gradually the colour of the clothes changed until the mourning period was complete.
During periods of mourning men wore black bands around hats and sleeves. Bright buttons and buckles were replaced with ones of dull black metal. Wearing black or dark colours is still customary at Christian funerals. Muslims also wear black. Sikh and Hindu women wear white or pale colours during the period of mourning which can last up to a year.

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Mourning jewellery
Mourning jewellery has been worn as a token of remembrance since the 17th century. Black jet or enamel brooches, lockets and rings were popular until the late 19th century and often contained hair from a loved one. The jewellery was decorated with flowers or trees symbolising sorrow, purity, love and immortality.

Although the customs of wearing deep mourning dress gradually subsided after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 other practices have remained important.
Flowers continue to be important at Christian funerals. In the Hindu and Sikh faiths a garland of dried flowers is often placed around a photograph of the deceased.

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