Marigolds decorate a cemetery in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, for a Day of the Dead ceremony
© Daniel Elizalde S/Shutterstoc
A day to honor 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 colors to the sun. According to legend, those colors and the flowers' sweet aroma have the power to lure the souls of the dead back to this world from beyond.
It's believed by most scholars that Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, has roots that reach back thousands of years, long before Spanish colonization began in 1492. These Indigenous traditions eventually blended with the Catholic observances of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, November 1 and 2 respectively. During modern Day of the Dead festivities, 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!