El Dia de los Muertos (or the Day of the Dead in English)... no the dead do not rise from their graves nor do zombies roam the streets. This tradition began long ago in Mexico as a day dedicated to honoring those who have passed on from this world. It is a day for happiness and celebration while everyone remembers their loved ones for who they were.
Why the marigold? Yellow marigolds or cempasuchil is "the flower of the dead" which gives off an aroma that attracts the souls of the dead to the offerings prepared in their honor. My family continues this tradition even though we've moved back to the United States. Each year an altar is built with marigolds, candles, sugar skulls, tissue paper, etc. with photographs of everyone we wish to remember on November 1st and 2nd.
This year, I was unable to build an altar but I was lucky enough to witness the Marigold Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I hope you enjoy this short video about it and as always, the photo album is available on Google+!
Melanie E Magdalena