Our Traditions and Sustainability: The Cempasúchil Edition

In the heart of México, a vibrant and deeply rooted tradition comes to life every year in starting in late October. Streets light up with candles, processions and rows of aromatic yellow and orange blossoms for Day of the Dead celebrations. 

embracing tradition and sustainability: the campasuchil season

Historical & Cultural Significance

Cempasúchil, also called "Tagetes erecta," holds a special place in Mexican culture, especially during Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.

cempasuchil altar de muertos - dia de muertos - day of the dead

These vibrant orange flowers with a deep, musky scent symbolize the ephemeral beauty of life and are used to create ofrendas (altars) honoring deceased loved ones.

The Dia de Muertos tradition is deeply rooted in indigenous rituals tied to the goddess Mictecacihuatl

Mictlancihuatl aztec goddess of death is predecessor of Dia de Muertos

Wikimedia Commons

Mictecacihuatl ruled the underworld and watched over the bones of the dead, which the Aztecs believed were a source of life in the next world. It was believed she allowed spirits to travel back to earth to commune with family members. This tradition was blended with the Roman Catholic observance of All Saints Day by the Spaniards during colonization.

Our family roots are in Michoacán, Mexico, home of the Purepecha indigenous community. In the Purepecha language, this special flower is known as "zempasuchil". These bright and aromatic blooms are believed to guide the souls of the departed back to the world of the living.

The cempasúchil is not only a cultural icon but also a prime example of sustainable practices...

Sustainability in Cempasuchil Cultivation

  1. Natural Adaptation: Cempasúchil is native to Mexico and has adapted naturally to the local climate. Thirty of the 55 known species of cempasúchil are native to Mexico, and the rest are from other areas of the Americas. This reduces the need for excessive irrigation and pesticides.

  2. Biodegradability: Cempasúchil petals are biodegradable, making them an eco-friendly, plastic-free choice for Dia de Muertos altars and home decor.

  3. Traditional Farming Practices: Many small scale, local farmers still cultivate cempasúchil using traditional and sustainable farming methods, avoiding harmful chemicals. They often rely on organic methods, reducing the need for harmful pesticides. 

The Many Uses of Cempasúchil

Apart from altar decorations, cempasúchil has many other uses. The versatility of this flower extends is usability and makes it less likely to contribute to landfill pollution. For example, it is used to create sustainable crafts, paper, and textiles.

Our brand partner, Gu Shu, uses cempasúchil flower petals to create a natural, non-synthetic dye to make artisanal scrunchies. The process takes days between the collection of flowers at the right point in their growth cycle, to the several dye baths.cempasuchil (marigold) flower petals used to make plant-based, natural dyes

GuShu uses locally-grown cempasúchil petals to dye silk scrunchies 

The result is a beautiful shade of yellow and orange, all without contaminating waterways or causing damage to the planet. Our exclusively curated Cuidate Mucho set features a beautiful mustard color silk scrunchie.  Cuidate Mucho set - Nopalera, Sanara Skincare, GuShu scrunchie

Cempasúchil is edible (for both humans and animals) and can be used to make soups, teas and other food. It's long been used in traditional medicine and remedies, especially to cure digestive issues and stomach maladies. 

cempasuchil ice cream - the many uses of cempasuchil make it sustainable tradition

Cempasúchil is used in ice cream, pulque and infusions or as a garnish for pastries and salads as well as a flavoring. It has also been found to have antioxidant and anti-aging properties

Community & Economic Empowerment

As a multi-purpose flower, cempasúchil serves as a source of inspiration and livelihood for crafty artisans. By embracing the many uses of cempasúchil, Latine artisans are able to showcase their talents, preserve cultural heritage, and sustain their communities, making this flower more than just a symbol; it's a means of livelihood and a testament to the beauty of cultural craftsmanship.

yellow cempasuchil sustainable harvesting

The cultivation and use of cempasúchil involve local communities and provide economic opportunities. Cempasuchil cultivation often involves entire communities. Neighbors and families come together to help with planting, harvesting, and processing the flowers. This sense of community involvement strengthens social bonds and promotes a shared cultural heritage.

Preserving Biodiversity

Cempasúchil is a flowering plant that attracts pollinators, contributing to the biodiversity and the preservation of natural habitats. These flowers support local ecosystems and maintain a healthy environment.

Butterfly pollinating cempasuchil for sustainable harvesting

Bees, butterflies, and other insects are drawn to the flower's pungent smell, the nectar and pollen produced by the cempasúchil flower. Pollinators play a crucial role in the plant's reproductive process by transferring pollen from one flower to another, facilitating fertilization and seed production.

Cultural Sustainability

The cempasúchil tradition is an example of how many of our cultural practices are intertwined with sustainability. At VOLVERde, we exist to elevate these culturally sustainable practices. We aim to shape the sustainability narrative to celebrate our cultura and ensure our stories are told. 

From its contribution to biodiversity to its role in traditional remedies and economic empowerment, the cempasúchil flower plays a big role in our traditions and it also benefits the environment. Embracing tradition and sustainability, we can honor the past while building a more sustainable future.

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