Oaxaca Wild Marigolds and Day of the Dead

Since pre-Hispanic Aztec times, the scent of wild marigold or cempaxuchitl has guided the dead back to loved ones for the celebration we know as Day of the Dead.  Marigolds are spiritual, healing, calming.


It’s the rainy season in Oaxaca.  Since August, late afternoon rains have turned the dry earth into a fertile field of wild flowers and berries.  It seems like the cactus have grown a foot since I left.  Wild marigolds populate the landscape.  It is a blanket of golden and green.









Yellow covers construction sites, spent corn fields, fence lines, foundations, patios, and hillsides.  Soon, vases will contain them.

Now, I am preparing for our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition which begins on October 28.  Calendas, or processions, will fill the streets and revelers will carry bouquets of wild and cultivated marigolds.  Marigolds will dominate home altars and grave sites.  Petals will line a path leading to the altars to make the journey home easier for the deceased.

WildMarigolds-3 WildMarigolds-2

The fragrance of marigold will fill the air.  Their color will bring joy to the living.



Experience Oaxaca.  2014 Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat starts February 28.  Two spaces left!

4 responses to “Oaxaca Wild Marigolds and Day of the Dead

  1. What are the chances of posting this Mole recipe? It sounds innovative and quite good! Appreciate it. Thank you, Bruce A. ( in Silicon Valley ) California

  2. Good morning Norma, You have returned to beloved Oaxaca; I am spending first morning back in the land of cold after my latest jaunt. Learned on this last trip that the marigold/cempaxóchitl with the petals of the beautiful traditional gold and the deep, almost maroon/deep copper colors in the same blossom are called San Martín. I’m missing the smell already.
    With the beginning of rainy season in late May/June, the countryside really does come alive with new foliage and fresh blossoms; it was good to be there and enjoy before the dryness of late fall/winter/early spring sets in. Remembering how chilly and rainy it was last year for los días de Muertos, I’m hoping that the weather is a little more hospitable for the photography workshop this year.
    buen suerte amiga, Mary

    • Mary, it’s drizzly and overcast here today. I was thinking of a walk, but I’m making up a new recipe instead — Tagine Oaxaca-Style with Mole Negro. Yes, I remember last year. We covered ourselves in huge black garbage bags to stay dry and hung out at the corner comedor where the beer was plentiful. Sorry we missed each other this time. Un otro vez. Un abrazo, Norma

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