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If asked to name the color of death and mourning, Europeans will choose black. Chinese, other Asians, and many other groups will pick white. Black signifies darkness and the absence of light. It also recalls the silence in the middle of the night. White recalls the color of the bones and the paleness of the corpse. The difference is not perfect because Europeans fill their graveyards with white tombstones. White doves also appear as motifs in the European sepulchral arts.

Catholics and High-Church Anglicans recognize purple as the color of mourning. Priests wear purple or violet robes at funeral masses for the dead, recalling Christ's passion, crucifixion, and resurrection.

See also red lettering.