Marigolds decorate a cemetery in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, for a Day of the Dead ceremony
© Daniel Elizalde S/Shutterstoc
A day to honour the ancestors. Day of the Dead
If you've ever been in Mexico during Day of the Dead festivities, then you've no doubt come across the beautiful orange flowers you see here. Marigolds are one of the main symbols of this festive, two-day celebration. The flowers are native to North America, and were deemed sacred by the Aztecs, who likened their bright colours to the sun. According to legend, those colours and the flowers' sweet aroma have the power to lure the souls of the dead back to this world from beyond.
Day of the Dead celebrants use marigolds, along with the decorative skulls called calaveras, to decorate their homes, gravesites, and makeshift home altars called ofrendas. Historically, the Day of the Dead is tied to a trio of Catholic observances, and its start coincides with the conclusion of All Saints' Eve on October 31. It is then followed by two days of festivities on November 1 and 2, which are All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day respectively. During this time, Mexican families gather to eat, drink, and pay homage to their deceased friends and relatives, and if they're lucky, maybe even commune with them!