It is believed that the scent of the flowers will make the returning souls feel welcomed and happy.
Most of the flower types used during the celebration have a strong odor, are available during the fall, are durable and have a traditional meaning associated with death.
Their use depends on local costumes, local availability and financial capacity.
Flowers market in Mexico City
The flowers listed below are used during the Day of the Dead celebrations:
Natural or paper cempasuchil are widely used in every part of Mexico on Day of the Dead. Arches, crosses and garlands made with the flowers are set on altars and tombstones.
In some communities, the petals of the flower are used to build a path from the house's entry to the altar. Thus, the bright color of the cempasuchil and its strong aroma will guide the souls to their offering.
In Mexican culture, the red cockscomb flower symbolizes the blood of Christ.
During Day of the Dead celebrations red terciopelos are often combined with cempasuchil flowers to enhance altars and tombstones.
The white alheli is used to decorate the altars dedicated to the dead children as the white color is often associated with the purity of the children's souls.
In Mexico white chrysanths are used in funerals and Day of the Dead celebrations as a heritage from Spain where they are profusely used in All Souls Day.
In many western cultures gladiolus symbolize remembrance and faithfulness, therefore they are popular in funerary and sympathy flower arrangements.
In Mexico gladiolas are widely used on those arrangements and during Day of the Dead celebrations when its bouquets are set on tombstones and altars.