They are similar to our marigolds but much, much larger. The word cempasuchitl in Nahua (the language of the Aztecs) means twenty flowers. The Aztecs believed that the sun god sent the flowers to adorn the graves of their loved ones.
And, I'm sure most of you know why towns have a Spanish name and an indigenous name. But, for those of you who don't - the Spanish added the "Christian" name in front of the indigenous name in an attempt to eliminate the culture of the peoples. In order to placate the Spaniards, it was left that way, but most indigenous refer to their villages only by the last name, their native name.
This church in Santa Maria Tonantzintla is, without a doubt, my favorite church in all of Mexico. It is exhuberant and vibrant and ALL hand carved by the indigenous. The story goes that the priest had to return to Spain and showed photos to the Indians of what he wanted carved and told them to finish the church. When he returned, this is what he found. There is hardly an inch of surface not covered by handcarved items. Hidden in these carvings are the "holy" things that the Indians considered sacred and part of what the Spanish considered a "heathen" religion. To me it says a lot about the Mexican people. They will appear to acquiesce, but in the end, they will have the last word! I find that enchanting.
In traveling to Tlaxcala, which is a small state and a town about an hour from Puebla, one is enchanted with the cleanliness, quaintness and beauty of this area. The zocalo in Tlacala had altars set up on the perimeter and most of the altars were honoring people who had died trying to cross the border into the USA. My heart was wrenched to know that over 400 people - sons, daughters, mothers and fathers had died trying to go to make money for their families. Notice the cross made of salt, one of the important "ingredients" of the altars.