This was challenging indeed for me due to the outside-of- your- country requirement.
Sadly, summers in Europe, helicoptering over Australia and batik lessons in Bali have not been a part of my life.
However, I did spend 20 years in Southern California and became imbued with the culture of Mexico. I chose as my subject a simple flower, the marigold, which has a special meaning as a symbol of the dead.
Every year on November first and second, the Aztecs relive a little of their past with the Dia De los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Huge altars are set up with food and drinks are given to the deceased members of the household. No altar is ever complete without the gathering of the wild marigolds and the spreading of them everywhere from the family altar, to pathways, and even in the graveyards. This can be traced, in part, to the ancient Aztec celebration of Death.
Often in Mexico today the family will visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried and bring them offerings. The main offerings given across the board, rich or poor, are the marigolds, or Flor de Muertos – Flower of the Dead. The flowers are thought to bring out the dead souls to feast on the offerings laid on the table or headstone.
Today the flowers are prized by gardeners the worldover for their long lived blooms that love the heat of summer. They are to be found in gardens across the world, a testament to the wonder of this wonderful flower of the dead.
Flor De Muertos