Help me understand this Guatemalan funeral invitation
April 10, 2019 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I, a white Angeleno, have been invited to a Guatemalan funeral. Please help me understand the invitation (in Spanish) and the associated customs.

First of all, the reason I'm not asking the person who invited me is becuase she is in deep grief. And she's literally the only person I know in this circle. I'd like to attend to show my respect for her (I didn't know the decedent). My friend is a first-generation immigrant.

Also, I definitely know how to arrive, be polite, say hello and then just keep a low profile and sit through whatever happens, expecting to understand nothing. That's all fine. I just don't want to make any egregious mistakes on the way.

So: the invite says "5pm en Adelante." Does this mean, basically, "5pm until whenever"? If so, is it okay for me to arrive later? I can make it by 6 if the traffic gods cooperate.

Next: I know this is a deeply religious family, and that they are in some type of Christian denomination that rejects visual representation of religion, so, for example, my friend would refuse to wear a cross on a necklace. Does this offer any clues as to what type of church I will be going to, and any sort of customs I should be aware of going in?

Would I be wearing black or dark colors? I know that on special days, my Guatemalan friend wears all white to her church. Does that include a funeral?

I assume I will be bringing nothing. Do you disagree?

Any other clues you want to lay on me re: Guatemalans in Los Angeles, I'm ready to hear it.
posted by BlahLaLa to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds to me that the customs would be chiefly religion based rather than ethnic based. Can you figure out which religion from the church name?
They might be Jehovah Witnesses or Seventh Day Adventist?
You will probably see female church members in dresses or skirts. If you are female Wearing pants should be fine- it will signal that you are a visitor but that is expected.
posted by calgirl at 9:26 AM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would agree with your assessment of the time of the event. 5pm and later is how I read that.
posted by terrapin at 9:38 AM on April 10, 2019

OK I am not Guatemalan or a member of that church, but I would definitely NOT assume that a funeral announcement for "5pm until whenever" means that I could arrive whenever. Are you talking about a funeral service held at a church, or some sort of a wake/open house held in someone's home?

If it were the former, I would definitely expect to find some sort of formal service with a defined beginning (5pm) and an uncertain end time. In that case, it might be very bad form to show up after 5pm. You wouldn't show up 45 minutes into a wedding if the invitation said 5pm ... you'd interrupt the service and miss all the action.

If it's a wake or visitation in the home, that's a different story ... that makes more sense to have people coming and going.

Does the invitation give you any clue about this? Can you find an online obituary listing that indicates what funeral home is handling the arrangements? You might call and explain your situation to the funeral home staff and get some kind of help with your question, particularly if the family is using a funeral home that commonly serves their community.
posted by mccxxiii at 1:51 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's at a church. I'm going to try to be on time but I literally may not be able to, alas. I think I'm going to just have to plan on arriving and being as subtle as possible while entering, to suss out the situation.

Thank you for the answers so far.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:26 PM on April 10, 2019

My experience when I lived there briefly was that Guatemalan church clothes are like American church clothes in a conservative mainstream church: men in suits or in slacks with collared shirts, and women in long skirts and short- or long-sleeved blouses. (A lot of indigenous people would wear traditional local clothing to church, but you as an outsider definitely wouldn't be expected to do that.)

In the part of the country I'm familiar with, this would be true in Catholic churches and in a lot of Pentecostal ones, those being the two main branches of Christianity there. In some Pentecostal churches, people would dress very casually — but I feel like it's better to err on the side of too-formal at a funeral.

Anyway, I feel like that would be a safe bet, and maybe make more sense than putting a lot of work into playing guess-the-denomination.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:37 PM on April 10, 2019

If you can find contact details for someone from the church, calling and explaining the problem and asking for help might do the trick! I'm sure they wouldn't want anyone to end up feeling uncomfortable in their church.
posted by quacks like a duck at 10:54 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

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