Meaning behind marigold flowers on Day of the Dead

KSAT Day of the Dead stories highlight tradition, celebration of life and death in Mexico

The flower of the dead, placed on graves during Day of the Dead, is believed to lure souls back from the dead with its vibrant colors and powerful scents.
The flower of the dead, placed on graves during Day of the Dead, is believed to lure souls back from the dead with its vibrant colors and powerful scents.

SAN ANTONIO – Marigolds are the most recognizable flower associated with Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead.

The flower is placed on graves during the holiday. It is believed to lure souls back from the dead to the land of the living with its vibrant colors and powerful scents.

They also symbolize the fragility of life since they bloom in early summer and die with the fall’s first frost.

In Mexico, the flower is called the cempasuchitl. The name is derived from Aztec origins and roughly translates to the “flower of many petals.”

The cempasuchitl was sacred for the Aztecs and its bright color represented the sun.

It is native to the Americas and was cultivated for decorative, magical, medicinal and agricultural purposes.

You can learn more about this traditional Day of the Dead flower in the video above.

Find more Day of the Dead stories on KSAT.com:


About the Authors:

Steve Spriester started at KSAT in 1995 as a general assignments reporter. Now, he anchors the station's top-rated 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.