If you ever see imagery related to the Day of the Dead, you will notice that flowers, especially the Cempasúchil is very prominent. Vibrant yellow, orange and magenta in color, but particularly the yellow one was believed by the Aztecs to be the flower of the God Sun Tonatiuh and the Life God Huitzilopochtli, but also a symbol of light. It’s supposed to be like a light source (and perfume) that guide the spirits of the dead back home from the world of the Dead.
The Arch of Cempasúchil acts as a portal also from the realm of the dead into ours. You will often see, especially in smaller villages, that people leave paths of Marigold petals from the grave to the home door, to make sure our spirit visitors find their way home. A Día de Muertos without Cempasúchil is almost unthinkable.
If you would like to learn more about the meaning of the day of the dead ofrenda and altar, you can read my blog Day of the Dead: what is it celebrating?
Marigold is not always easy to find, here in Switzerland (or Europe) this non-perishable iteration of the season’s ubiquitous yellow and orange garlands is a good alternative to decorate your home, ofrenda, or Día de Muertos themed fiesta this year and for years to come!
- Orange or dark yellow..
- paper Napkins
- or Tissue paper
- or Crêpe paper
- Nylon thread or floral wire
or a pipe-cleaner
or even the cookie bag closing plasticized wire
STEPS1. Cut the Napkin in half or cut paper so you have approximately the width of the flower you want (these are 15cm wide) is half of the length.
2. Separate the 3 sheets of paper that make up the Napkin. If you are using Tissue paper or Crêpe-paper, use 6-layers approximately 15x30cm.
3. Tear off the length’s edges by hand (now or after the folding).
4. Make 1.5 cm wide accordion folds, creasing with each fold.
5. Tie up the accordion of paper in the middle.
- Use nylon thread if the flowers will hang
- Use thin floral wire or a pipe-cleaner.
6. Gently pull to separate the paper sheets from each other until you have the flower shaped.
Now you can use your paper Cempasúchil by hanging them, or make a garland. If you prefer to put them in a vase, use garden wire and cover it with green crêpe-paper to make the stem and leaf(s). Use them to decorate your Día de Muertos altar or party!
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About our Author:
Marcela Rupli-Juin, Founder of ReCrearte Atelier