Whether yellow or orange, cempasúchil flowers are an iconic element in Day of the Dead offerings and altars throughout the country. But little is said about their meaning and the legend surrounding their origin.
(El Universal).- Therefore, it is convenient to point out that the cempasúchil flower is a plant native to Mexico, whose main characteristic is the yellow or orange tone of its petals. It is estimated that there are 35 species of the Marigold flower.
Cempasúchil comes from the Nahuatl “sempôwal”, which means 20 or many, and “xôchitl”, which means flower. Some of the states where it is grown in farms are Puebla, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Michoacán, and Estado de México.
However, as has happened with many other products, the Chinese version of the cempasúchil flower has invaded the national market, so although many of the flowers used in altars and offerings are national, not all of those marketed in pots are.
The Mexicas associated the color of this flower with the sun, in addition to believing that its scent attracted the dead, so it was placed in offerings dedicated to them. Hence its use is located in the national territory since pre-Hispanic times.
According to tradition, in addition to receiving the souls of loved ones with incense or copal, paths are made with cempasúchil petals, from the entrance of the house to the house offering, to guide the souls to the altars.
The legend around the cempasúchil flower states that Xóchitl and Huitzilin fell in love when they were children. The lovers used to climb the mountain dedicated to Tonatiuh, the Aztec god of the sun, and offer him bouquets of flowers.
Like all warriors, the time came when Huitzilin went to fight in the war and died. Upon learning that her beloved had died, Xochitl asked the god Tonatiuh to reunite her with Huitzilin. Tonatiuh took pity and let his rays fall on Xóchitl and transforming her into a yellow flower.
A hummingbird landed on the flower and it opened its 20 petals, releasing an intense aroma. It is said that the Aztec couple’s love will remain as long as there are hummingbirds and cempasúchil flowers in the fields. For this reason, the cempasúchil flower is used to decorate altars on the Day of the Dead.