The Role Of Marigold Flowers (Cempasuchil) In Dia De Los Muertos

role marigold flowers cempasuchil dia de los muertos

The Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” is an annual Mexican celebration that is celebrated on October 31 – November 2. And while it’s usually compared to that of Halloween, the reason for celebrating this holiday is entirely different for it’s more of celebrating life and the family and friends who have passed away. In fact, this holiday is featured in the animated movie “Coco”.

coco disney film role marigold flowers cempasuchil dia de los muertos

During this 3-day festival, the homes and ofrendas (altars) are decorated with colorful adornments, delicious eats, refreshing drinks and tequila, and keepsakes of the deceased. And more importantly, one of the most notable decorations during this holiday is the inclusion of fresh marigold flowers and marigold garlands.

Now for those who are not really familiar with the significance of these flowers, then we suggest that you continue reading as we are going to tackle the role of marigold flowers (cempasuchil) in Dia De Los Muertos in this article.


The Earliest History Of Using Cempasuchil For Commemorating The Dead

The earliest written record of the use of Marigold flowers was mentioned in the Florentine Codex, a 2400-page manuscript written by Fr. Bernardino de Sagahun. The codex was an account of the different customs and traditions of the Aztecs.

According to this document, marigolds played an important role for medicines and celebrations of the Aztecs. And one of their important celebrations is the “Cempohualxochitl” or a 2-day holiday for the commemoration of the deceased.

Eventually, this festival was further developed into Dia De Lost Muertos or the modern Mexican holiday of commemorating the dead.

aztec myth role marigold flowers cempasuchil dia de los muertos


Why It Has An Integral Part To The Day Of The Dead Celebration We Have Today?

The use of cempasuchil during the Day of the Dead is believed to be based on the romantic Aztec origin myth of Huitzilin and Xochitl. As the story goes, the couple had the habit of leaving flowers as offerings to Tonatiuh (Aztec sun-god) as they swear their undying love to one another. And when Huitzilin was killed in battle, his partner prayed deeply to Tonatiuh to reunite them again.

Moved by Xochitl’s prayers and lamentations, the sun-god granted her request and sent a ray of sun on her way so she can be transformed into a flower as bright and beautiful as the sun and reincarnated Huitzilin as a hummingbird so they can be together again. And every time Huitzilin comes over to Xochitl, her 20 petals bloom and release a distinctive scent in the air.


Final Word

Since then, Mexicans have been using cempasuchil and marigold garlands during Dia De Los Muertos to celebrate life itself. It signifies hope just as how Huitzilin and Xochitl were reunited again, that there are more things in life to be happy about rather than looking at death in a negative way.

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