Every year the ofrenda is made in preparation for Día de los Muertos, or Day of theDead. This is a multi-day holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and parts of Latin America that honors loved ones who have died.
The creation of altars has been an important part of Día de los Muertos, a festival whose origins derived from the rituals of the pre-Hispanic peoples of Mexico. This holiday is deeply rooted in Aztec beliefs and tied to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, also known as the “Lady of the Dead.”After the Spanish invaded Mexico, the celebration became more intertwined with Catholic traditions and shortened from a month-long event.
The celebration is now held on November 1 and 2 which are the Catholic Holiday’s, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.Marigolds served as important ceremonial flowers for the Aztecs, where they had been associated with human sacrifices and the beautiful, mystical world of the afterlife.
The marigold most commonly used in Dia de los Muertos celebrations is the, cempasuchitl, or more commonly known as the Mexican or Aztec marigold or flower of the dead.Mexican marigolds are the tallest variety, reaching up to 3′ and bears big, pom-pom flowers.
It is believed that the spirits of the dead visit the living during the celebration. Marigolds help guide the spirits to their altars using their vibrant colors and scent, along withClusters of freshly picked marigolds are intermingled with burning incense made of the resin of the copal tree and a bell, whose scent and sound are intended to draw in souls.
Marigolds, or flowers in general, also represent the fragility of life. While many people might view death as a time filled with sadness and grief, for the people who celebrate this tradition, it is actually a moment for celebration. These brightly colored blooms give a beautiful display all summer up through frost, making them ideal for gardens, borders and containers.
In Mexico, marigolds are also used incorporated in medicinal teas since they have a diuretic effect. This tea relieves indigestion, heartburn and other kidney diseases. Also, marigolds are used in baths and hot compresses of warmed petals for alleviating rheumatism.
Marigolds are a versatile flower, used ornamentally, in herbal medicines, and in celebrations like Dia de Los Muertos! And don’t forget––they’re a fantastic choice for bouquets, adding a pop of color and festive vibe to the arrangements of the season.