Sharing a meal after a funeral service is a common tradition across cultures. Food brings people together. It also offers comfort. Jews call the meal after a burial service "the meal of condolence." Chinese families call it a "consolation feast." Black families are likely to call it "the repast." A funeral reception by any other name is just that.
For many years, a repast was commonly held at a church and put on by a bereavement committee. These days, a repast may take place at the funeral home, right after a funeral or burial. It may also be held at someone's home. Though some families prefer a catered event, others opt for a potluck. It's simply a matter of personal preference.
The point is to be together, enjoy favorite foods and share cherished memories. In that way, the repast is an important element of Black funeral traditions. As sad as the occasion may be, the repast can often feel like a family reunion.
Common repast foods
The food served at a repast can be anything a family wants it to be. The menu often includes favorite foods of the deceased loved one. It might also include foods traditional to Southern, African and Caribbean funeral traditions.
That's why you might see fried chicken, baked ham, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, cheesy grits and homemade cakes and pies. But you also might see banana pudding, tomatoes and okra, black-eyed peas with pork, and oyster and shrimp dishes.
If you're planning a potluck, you can let guests know what to bring. Your funeral director can also arrange catering, so your family can fully focus on remembering your loved one.
Tips for repast hosts
The days immediately following the loss of a loved one can be tough. It's important to remember you are never alone. Your friends and family want to help. So does your Dignity Memorial® provider. Here are a few tips for hosts.
- Consider the budget. The cost of the repast is usually covered by the loved one's family, though a fraternity or sorority group, Sunday school class, trade union or other group your loved one belonged to might sponsor the repast as a gift to the family.
- Choose a comfortable venue. A repast tends to be a casual affair. The funeral home can be a convenient option, freeing you from preparing for guests or cleaning up afterward. But you can, of course, host the repast at home. Some families like to gather at a park, where they can be outside and the kids can play.
- Decide whom to invite. You can open the repast to anyone or invite only close family and friends. It’s entirely up to you. If you’d like to invite everyone, ask your funeral director to announce during the service where you're going to gather. If you plan to hold a more private meal, send out invitations via text or email.
- Ask for help. There’s no need to plan a repast by yourself. Allowing family and friends to participate allows them to feel useful at a time when they may not be sure how to help. Your funeral director is always available to assist, too.
Plan a catered reception
When it comes to planning your loved one’s funeral service, we cater to your every need—right down to the catering. It’s just one more way we offer service beyond expectation. Ask your funeral director for menu options.
*Catered receptions may not be allowed at funeral homes by law in some states.