Photo: Neomexicanismos

Once you’ve had a whiff of the Flor de Muertos, you won’t forget it. That’s because the cempasĂșchil, or ‘flower of the dead,’ has a unique pungent scent. By mid-October, this flower with the color of a deep sunset, is part of many DĂ­a de Muertos celebrations.

But the CempasĂșchil (which means “twenty petals” in the Aztec language NĂĄhuatl) has a romantic origin legend.

During Aztec times, two kids named XĂłchitl (which means flower) and Huitzilin (hummingbird) grew up together and eventually fell in love.

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They would climb to the top of a mountain and leave flower offerings for their sun-god Tonatiuh.

Photo: History

When war came, Huitzilin had to join other warriors on the field to fight, and he was tragically killed.

Soon, news of his death reached XĂłchitl, who was so devastated that she ran to their mountain and begged Tonatiuh to reunite them.

Toantiuh, moved by her emotion, beamed his rays towards her and transformed her into the CempasĂșchil flower. He then reincarnated her lover into a hummingbird. 

It is said that when Huitzilin, as a hummingbird, approached XĂłchitl in the form of a flower, she opened into twenty petals and releases a powerful scent.

Since then, the Aztecs have used the CempasĂșchil during DĂ­a de Muertos celebrations, and they say that hummingbirds are always nearby.