Día de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is a Mexican festival that is celebrated each year on All Saints' Day (1st November) and All Souls' Day (2nd November). It mixes Catholic tradition and indigenous heritage in one glorious celebration of life and death. Día de los Muertos is a time to remember loved ones who have passed away, honour what made them special and recall the times shared together — and it's also a moment to celebrate family and friends who are alive and well. In Mexico, an important part of the celebrations is the decorative home altar or ofrenda : a place to welcome the dead into your home and offer them food, drink and flowers. Flowers play an important role in Día de los Muertos, as they help us to celebrate life and death in many different ways.
A festival with flowers
The fleeting nature of flowers teaches us about transience and time passing, while their beauty focuses our attention on everything that's positive in the world. This makes them the ideal symbol of life and death. On Día de Los Muertos, the festival's flowers are full of this ritual and meaning:
- Flowers on the altar guide souls home with their vibrant colour and scent, leading to a joyful reunion between the living and the dead
The sweet perfume of flowers is believed to make souls feel welcome
The festival's sugar skulls are richly decorated with flowers, symbolising happiness
Celebrating our ancestors
Aztecs and Mayas worshipped their ancestors, and had a strong connection with the dead. They believed it was shameful to mourn; instead they celebrated death as another stage of life. Skulls were displayed and used during rituals, symbolising life and death together. In 2008 Dìa de los Muertos was added to UNESCO's list of important cultural heritage occasions. Mexico's national holiday is officially glorious on a global scale, and it's inspired us to get involved as well.
Everything starts with an altar
Today, Día de los Muertos is a hugely meaningful festival for Mexicans, and a wonderful way to mark life and the afterlife. We've created a series of flower-filled tutorials for Dìa de los Muertos to help you celebrate in your own way. First off, an altar: whether large or small, read here to find out how to create your own sacred space. Then dress up for the occasion with Calavera Catrina make-up, and make a real flower crown or top hat with flowers to finish off your outfit.