There is much to learn about El día de los muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrated every November 1-2 in México and by Mexican Americans in the U.S. The holidays coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, and focuses on the gathering of families and friends to honor those who have died. It is not Halloween.
Some of the traditions associated with the holiday are processions, visiting and decorating grave sites, creating altars in the home, making special foods, and designing playful skeletons and calaveritas art pieces to tease death. Decorations include papel picado (cut paper banners), candles, skeleton art pieces, sugar skulls and many marigold flowers.
The first step in prepping is harvesting the cempachitl (marigolds) which are sold all day long on October 31 in temporary flower markets in every plaza. The marigolds are essential for making altar decorations.
This field on the road to Patzcuaro, Michoacan is filled with flowers to be used in ceremonies throughout the week. Each row sells for $400 pesos, about $30 U.S. As the Día de muertos approaches, trucks begin to arrive to harvest the flowers and take them to the nearby markets where families and businesses purchase large quantities of flowers to decorate their altars and the graves of their departed family members.
The pickup trucks are never ending and they fill them to the top! How they drive is with all those flowers is a sight to see! The flowers are planted every year on July 25 in order to have them ready for harvest on October 31. The days are precisely planned and the flowers are always ready on time.