In Mexico this time of year marks the season for remembering the loved ones who have gone before them in death. In a combination of Old World Catholicism and New World Aztec rites of the dead, this three day festival spanning the feasts of All Saints and All Souls south of the border is a celebration of love and remembrance.
A home altar set up in a wall niche with small wild marigolds and the hybrid forms with large flowers they evolved from. Arches are typically made of sugar cane stalks.
First the family will create an altar in the home and fill it with treats that the ancestors loved such as tequila, cigarettes, favored moles and candy. They will use the Aztec marigold, cempacuchil, to lure the dead home again, attracted by the flower’s distinctive fragrance.
Vendors at the market place selling cempacuchil marigolds, red cockscomb, copal chunk tree resin incense and sugar cane stalks.
In preparation for these special days of communion with the dead, the families will tend the graves and decorate them. Then many will spend the night in the graveyard to be there when the veil between life and death is pulled back for just a short time. There is grieving and celebrating, remembrance of past times and telling stories to the young.
In Xoxocotlan graveyard, the oldest in Oaxaca, women sit all night beside the decorated family grave to greet the dead when they return.