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The Aztec symbolism of hummingbirds in the Day of the Dead celebrations

Legend has it these colorful birds could unite you with a departed loved one.

Hummingbirds are one of the most beautiful birds that exist and are native to our continent, so it is common to leave them some sugared water to reach the houses and drink a little. Historically it has been believed that these small birds are symbols of good luck.

Now, not only their beauty has captivated humanity over the centuries, but in ancient Tenochtitlan, this bird also had a special meaning related to remembering the deceased, thus their importance in the Day of the Dead celebrations.

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According to legend, the gods Xipetótec, Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcóatl, and Huitzilopochtli made all creatures from clay and corn. They also gave each tree, stone, and creature a mission on this world, but when they finished assigning them, they realized that they had not entrusted someone to carry the thoughts and good wishes from one place to another. At that moment, a bright light surprised Huitzilopochtli; it was a precious Jade stone, so he decided to create with it a bird that would spread fortune among the population.

The problem came when people started using the plumage of the precious hummingbird to adorn themselves. The gods were infuriated; so, they decided to make them small and fast so that they could never be hunted.

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Hummingbirds and the Mictlan

The Mexica or Aztecs had a special devotion to these birds, and besides the fact that they believed that they brought goodness to people, they also believed that they had a special function in the underworld which they called Mictlan.

Huitzilopochtli, who was one of the creators, left some hummingbirds in this underworld, to carry messages to the gods, but also to collect the thoughts and love of the souls that inhabited this place so they could communicate with their living loved ones.

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According to the story, these birds can carry good thoughts to relatives who have passed away and vice versa. Therefore, at night, they let the souls of the Mictlan enter their bodies to visit their relatives on earth.

Therefore, it is considered that if you come across this bird, you should feel lucky, since it is surely a loving message from a relative who has passed away.

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Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva

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