In Mexican culture, All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day are important feast days. Mexican families make Dias los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars, on which they put photos and mementos of deceased loved ones. They honor the dead with ofrendas — flowers, favorite food, and candles. Families also put sweet breads and water on the altars, the basic nourishment for human life.
On All Souls Day itself people take the food from the altars to the graves of family members. They clean around the graves and decorate them with marigolds (zempasuchil) and other flowers.
Marigolds are the symbolic flowers of death of the Aztec people of ancient Mexico. Family members picnic in the cemetary, light incense and candles, and keep vigils into the night. These customs introduce children to grandparents, aunts, and uncles they may never have known in life. It also eases fear of death. On this day the living visit the dead, and the dead come to life in the memories of their families and friends.
Put your faith in action this week by visiting family members’ graves and take flowers. If your family graves are not nearby, visit your parish cemetery or nearest cemetery.