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🇬🇧 Cempazúchitl by Archaeologist Hugo Huerta.

The day of the dead in Mexico is getting closer and many places have started making the arrangements to prepare the celebration of this important festivity. The tradition including the adornment of cemeteries and making of altars for the family's death comes from a prehispanic origin and has been declared as an immaterial cultural heritage by UNESCO.


 

One of the most important elements of this ancient tradition are flowers, mainly the bride's breath, lion's claw, tuberose, and the most important one, the Mexican marigold "cempasúchil (Tagetes erecta)". Its Spanish name derives from the indigenous language Nahuatl "cemooalxochiyl", which means -the flower of twenty petals-, in allusion to the tens of petals that these may have. The number twenty represented a great quantity according to prehispanic beliefs.


These flowers, which can vary from yellow to orange, are the most emblematic element in the decoration of altars and graves. It's strong aroma scents during the last days of October and at the beginning of November. In many regions of the country, they create crosses, petal beds, paths, and intricate adornments with this magnificent flower.


 

The yellow in this flower is the color of the world of the dead. The creation of paths with its petals connects our and our ancestor's worlds.

The plant comes originally from Mexico, can be found throughout the entire central area of the country, and be grown in practically all climates. The flower's planting until the harvesting cycle lasts between 100 to 120 days, even though the entire process begins during the times of the celebration of the day of the dead. Before cutting the flowers each year, they choose the best specimens and their seeds are recollected, dried in the sun, and then store to be planted throughout all of July. They germinate in August and can be trimmed to be able to harvest the first flowers by mid-October.


 

It Is not only a decorative plant but can also be used as an infusion to heal some illness, as a natural coloring agent, and as fodder. This plant is to be found as far as the Royal botanical gardens of Kew in England, besides Mexico. Around the globe, it's common names are also African Marigold, American Marigold, or Aztec Marigold.


 

Text by Archeologist Hugo Huerta

Image credits to whom it may concern.

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