This year, we teamed up with taco journalist Mando Rayo to cover one of the most important celebrations of Mexican culture: Día de los Muertos. He traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, to participate in the festivities and capture the details for this feature.
Día de los Muertos is a holiday filled with a lot of symbolism and community as family and friends gather together to celebrate their deceased loved ones. One symbol in particular holds a special place at the heart of it all: cempasúchiles, or marigolds.
Known as the Day of the Dead flower, these orange blooms are typically used to decorate ofrendas. Their vibrant color and powerful fragrance are said to guide souls from their graves back to their family homes, but they also hold personal significance to people who celebrate. Dive into some of the stories we uncovered behind this iconic flower.
A Florist’s Perspective
As a florist, flowers play a big part in Sandra Bautista’s life all year round.
Bautista started out working part time at a flower shop in Oakland. She didn’t know much about flowers at the time, but she was drawn to the creativity of the business.
“I would stop by and play around with different textures and colors, and I fell in love every time I had a chance to create something unique,” said Bautista.
Bautista eventually opened up her own San Francisco-based flower studio, Dasluz, where she could embrace her unique wild, organic style. She drew her inspiration from her travels, experiences and the beautiful colors of her birthplace—Mexico.
Bautista not only brings her experiences and perspective to her community through her style, but also through the events she hosts at her studio, like their Día de los Muertos celebration.
Dasluz’s festivities centered around a community ofrenda beautifully decorated with bouquets and garlands of cempasúchiles. Bautista encouraged people in the neighborhood to drop off decorations and photos of loved ones so they could celebrate and honor them together. They rounded out the festivities with a traditional Mexican food pop-up, face painting and live music.
“My family is from Mexico, and the Day of the Dead is a big and very special tradition,” Bautista said. “This event came to be because I wanted to share my tradition and culture with our neighborhood. I want them to know where I come from and the traditions that are important to Dasluz.”
You can see what Bautista and her flower studio are up to at the moment here.
A Food Blogger’s Perspective
For Sweet Life Blogger Vianney Rodriguez, cempasúchiles always remind her of her abuelita. Their aroma, strength and vibrant color all bring her back.
“My abuelita was one of the strongest women I had the pleasure of spending time with,” Rodriguez said. “She loved deeply, raised her children to work hard to better themselves. She was witty and charming, loved hosting and shaking up amazing cocktails. And she loved me unconditionally.”
Every Día de los Muertos, Rodriguez honors her abuelita and other deceased loved ones by cooking their favorite dishes, visiting them at the cemetery and sharing stories with family and friends.
“I incorporate marigold in cocktails, desserts and sauces,” Rodriguez said. “Marigolds have a wonderful warm flavor profile that works well with pork, chicken and beef.”
This Día de los Muertos, try recreating Rodriguez’s Cazuela Marigold Orange Margarita for your own celebrations.
Vianney’s Cazuela Marigold Orange Margarita (Serves 8)
2 Cups Camarena Silver
2 Cups orange juice
1 Cup lemonade
Dried edible marigolds
Top with grapefruit soda
Fill a cazuela with ice. Add dried marigolds, orange and lemon slices, orange juice, lemonade and Camarena. Top with grapefruit soda, and mix well to combine. ¡Salud!
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