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Flor de Cempasúchil, a legend of love that became a tradition

cempasuchil flower
Photo: Video excerpt from @fernandoescartiz

Its smell is unmistakable, its color is radiant, but the meaning of the Cempasúchil flower goes beyond just being a fundamental element to accompany the traditional altars that millions of Mexican families put up for the Day of the Dead to remind their loved ones that they have departed

In the Nahuatl language, Cempasúchil means flower with twenty petals. It grows in autumn, very close to the date of the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on November 1 and 2 of each year.

The tradition of decorating tombs and offerings with this flower arose in pre-Hispanic times and legend has it that its yellow petals guide the dead during their visit to the world of the living, since it is said that they contain the color and aroma of fire. of the sun.

Legend has it that a long time ago there were a couple of Aztec children who had known each other since birth, the girl was called Xóchitl and the boy was Huitzilin. As the years passed and between games, their friendship turned into a sweet and tender youthful love. 

It is said that their love was so great that every afternoon, the young lovers would climb to the top of a mountain to give flowers to Tonatiuh, the god of the sun. One day when the sun dazzled with great force, Xóchitl and Huitzilin swore eternal love, even surpassing the barriers of life.

Thus, the lovers asked Tonatiuh to give them his blessing and care so that they could continue loving each other. The God of the sun, seeing them so in love, blessed their love and approved their union. 

Unfortunately the tragedy came to them unexpectedly, the war reached the town and Huitzilin had to go to fight. A short time later, the death of her partner was confirmed to her beloved Xóchitl, which left the young woman in deep pain. 

Xóchitl's pain was so great that he begged Tonatiuh with all his might to allow him to join him in eternity. This one, seeing her so afflicted, decided to turn her into a beautiful flower, so he threw a golden ray on her who, touching her, turned her into a beautiful and tender flower bud, however, it remained closed for a long time.

One fine day, a hummingbird attracted by the unmistakable aroma of this flower came to it and landed on its leaves. Immediately, the flower opened and showed its beautiful yellow color, radiant like the sun itself, it was the flower of Cempasúchil, the flower with twenty petals, which had recognized its beloved Huitzilin, who had taken the form of a hummingbird to be able to visit her. 

Thus, the legend says that as long as the cempasúchil flower exists and there are hummingbirds in the fields, the love of Huitzilin and Xóchitl will last forever.

cempasuchil flower
Photo: Video excerpt from @fernandoescartiz

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Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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