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November 18, 2020

Beautiful flowers for the dead

Earlier this month the Church commemorated two important solemnities.

The Solemnity of All Saints on November 1 which dates to the 4th century is a day to honour Christian saints and martyrs. All Souls Day, November 2, is the expansion of this commemoration to honour the memory of all who died.

These solemn days of the dead are recognised by the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.

Since its establishment, Catholics, and other faithful flock in large numbers to attend Mass to pray for departed souls and visit cemeteries to tend to the gravesites of their dead family and friends. These days have varying names and unique honourary rituals across countries and cultures, but the same principle remains throughout.

As a result of the current global situation, the traditional methods to recognise All Saints and All Souls Day were not stopped but slowed and scaled down. Laying flowers at gravesites or on church altars to mark these days is a very common practice. Keeping certain plants around the home can serve to maintain the spirit of honouring your dead throughout November.

Daises are a common type of flower used to decorate graves during this season of remembering the dead. Specifically, marigolds, which are used in a grand way during the celebration of these feasts among Catholic Mexican populations. Marigolds originate in North and South America and are called ‘Flor de Muerto’ or ‘Flower of the Dead’ in certain cultures. The main symbolism of this flower is its history of being used to honour the most respected within a society.

This fits very well with the spirit of All Saints and All Souls Day. Its bright orange and yellow-coloured petals brighten up any space, whether potted or plotted in a garden and serves the memory of your dearly departed beautifully. This type of daisy also has medicinal and culinary uses along with its cultural and ornamental significance.

Lilies are another type of flower that is known to honour the dead. Paired with its aromatic properties, lilies symbolise calmness, purity, and radiance of the soul. They serve as a reminder that the soul of your deceased has passed to a state of peaceful innocence in Heaven. The Peace Lily plant is a lovely addition to any home or workspace as they survive well indoors as potted plants.  The large bright leaves and the eventual bloom are a sign of rebirth from this world to a greater, more complex, spiritual place.

Orchid plants are another flowering bloom that can be used to honour the memory of the deceased. Often used in funeral garlands, they represent the message of everlasting love as they maintain their form for quite some time. These plants also have the power to convey a sense of royalty and purity, as that which is associated with Heaven. They help in maintaining the respectful nature of remembering deceased loved ones. It is no secret these flowers bloom well in our tropical climate.

Roses are also commonly used to adorn gravesites as they can convey a sense of high class and respect, like orchids. Red roses symbolise love for the departed, grace and courage.

Planting a rose bush around this time to remember your loved ones, is a beautiful gesture and a stunning addition to the home space. Growing them from cuttings will produce results in about three weeks’ time. Be sure that the soil has good drainage and organic matter and that the plant is offered shade from afternoon sunlight.

While tending to them is often described as high maintenance, the visual effect and undeniable fragrance of rose plants in remembrance of your departed family and friends, is worth it, both as a coping mechanism and a symbol of your love for them.

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