To outsiders, el Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, may look like a Halloween tradition: houses decorated with orange flower garlands and sugar skulls, faces painted to look like skeletons, candles lining gravesides and streets. Also, the festival occurs from October 31 to November 2 and involves costumes and Day of the Dead flowers.
Despite its initial appearance, the Day of the Dead is a time of love, family bonding, and joy; it is not an extension of Halloween. On October 31 at midnight, according to tradition, the gates of heaven open, and the spirits of deceased children can rejoin their families for 24 hours; the spirits of adults receive 24 hours on November 2, All Souls Day.
Flowers play a vital role in Day of the Dead traditions, especially Cempasúchitl or Flor de Muerto. Experts say the aroma of flowers attracts spirits from the grave to the homes of their families. In celebration of the upcoming season, let's examine some of the most popular flowers for Day of the Dead traditions.
Importance of Day of the Dead Flowers
Flowers, especially marigolds, are crucial to the November celebration. Families take time to decorate personalized altars known as ofrendas, which include offerings to loved ones past. Aromatic plants, such as flowers, act as maps to the family-prepared spaces.
Some people will place flowers on the gravesite of a deceased relative and their ofrenda; other people will lay down pathways of marigolds to guide the spirits of relatives back to their homes. The use of flowers is traditional and popular because the scent is said to attract spirits.
While marigolds are the most popular flowers for Day of the Dead celebrations, they are far from the only floral options for decoration and symbolism.
6 Day of the Dead Flowers
People can use various flowers to decorate the graves of loved ones or ofrendas in their homes. However, according to experts, six species are the most popular flowers for Day of the Dead.
Marigolds come in yellow, red, and orange hues, and typically suggest or symbolize positive energy and emotions. In Day of the Dead celebrations, orange marigolds are a staple flower, known as Flor de Muerto.
While marigolds can also symbolize grief and mourning, traditions dictate the use of vibrant oranges and yellows to express joy and excitement about life. The holiday is not a sorrowful one.
Marigolds can appear as garlands, altar decorations, or pathways from a loved one's grave to their family home. The earliest written account of Flor de Muerto dates back to the 16th century.
Dating back to 15th century China, chrysanthemum has held meanings of longevity and devoted love. While the fall flowers come in various colors, people mainly use white varieties of these Day of the Dead flowers for celebrations.
You will often see the flowers adorning family altars or appearing in holiday arrangements. The reason the flowers are so prevalent in Day of the Dead celebrations is their representation of peace, sympathy, and beauty.
An annual tropical plant, cockscomb or Terciopelo Rojo, produces a hardy flower in dry and humid conditions. The combination of marigolds and cockscombs on altars represents the mingling of Aztec and Catholic traditions in modern Day of the Dead celebrations.
The deep red of the cockscomb flower represents Christ's blood. However, the vibrancy of the flower also adds to the cheerfulness of the altar.
Day of the Dead is a celebration of life and family. It should be joyous, which can be a challenging concept for many Americans who associate death with sadness and dread.
4. White Hoary Stock
A symbol of simplicity and beauty, hoary stock is a popular Day of the Dead flower, adorning many ofrendas or altars. Indigenous to the Mediterranean coast, the delicate and sweet aroma of the flower stands out among other popular floral choices.
White hoary stock or alheli blanco is mainly used to decorate the altars of dead children. The color of these Day of the Dead flowers represents the purity of children's souls.
Often called sword lilies because of their sword-like shape, gladiolus flowers symbolize integrity, faithfulness, remembrance, and sincerity. It is common to see these flowers laid at gravesites alongside tombstones.
While it is possible to see a single stem, most people include gladioli in bouquets with baby's breath and other flowers. Many floral artists consider this flower the perfect focal point in larger arrangements.
6. Baby's Breath
Baby's breath is usually an accent flower incorporated into crowns, decorations, gravesites, and ofrendas. The flower is a symbol of love, innocence, and purity. Designers often use it with white hoary stock for children.
These Day of the Dead flowers are also delicate, which can be symbolic of life and the balance between happiness and grief. While the loss of a family member is challenging, the Day of the Dead is a time for reconnection and celebration.
El Dia de Los Muertos may seem strange to some Americans, but it is a beautiful tradition steeped in love and celebration. The Day of the Dead focuses on remembrance and family, but it is not dreary. The festivities help people remember the fragility of life and the importance of living each day to its fullest, remembering to share your love and support with your family and all those around you. By acknowledging the importance of family and embracing the possibility of eternal connection, it is possible to find the hope in loss. El Dia de Los Muertos is a vibrant holiday that is both emotional and unique in how it seeks to normalize death and celebrate life.
We love any celebration that encourages the use of flowers, but we especially appreciate the symbolism and important role flowers play in El Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. Whether you are in need of marigolds or beautiful arrangements of baby's breath, cockscomb, and hoary stock, we have your Day of the Dead flowers covered. Check out Beverly Hills Florist for premier floral arrangements and speedy deliveries.