On Valentine's Day, millions of couples celebrate their love with poems, songs, chocolates, or flowers. However, around this innocent holiday, shady traditions have also proliferated: witchcraft spells and rites invoked by people who seek to attract their loved one and trap him or her forever. False practices that have no power, but do carry a very high cost.

Many of these love rituals require animal sacrifice. And among the mistreated species, one of the most worrying is the hummingbird, which plays an invaluable role as a pollinator, and every year, at this time of year, is massacred en masse. The hummingbird for America and for Mexico is an animal that requires a lot of care since they are pollinators, they are animals responsible for providing the current biological biodiversity. Without them, as well as bees, there would not be a great amount of fauna and flora that currently exists in the region.

This small bird allows the sexual reproduction of plants. An essential role that begins when it injects its long beak almost to the bottom of the flower to feed on the nectar. As it absorbs the substance, traces of pollen remain around its mouth, where the plant's male gametes - or sex cells - are found. The bird then travels to a new flower to repeat the process, and unintentionally drops the dust in its beak. At that moment, the gametes from the first plant slip into the ovary of the second flower, and fertilization occurs.

Hummingbirds perform this operation hundreds of times a day. In doing so, they promote the continuous birth of new flowers and fruits. Partly because of this function, they are traditionally associated with love and fertility. Despite their importance for biodiversity, and despite being an animal protected by Mexican law, every February thousands of hummingbirds are captured in Mexico for "amarres", a magical-religious ritual invoked to conquer the heart of the loved one.

The person has to acquire a hummingbird, either dead or alive. Regularly this ritual is done on February 14. It is asked to be done at night and with candles, with the figure of a crucified Jesus and the photograph of the loved one. Many of them say that the hummingbird must be tied to a photograph, with a thread, and brought carrying it, that is if it is a man. If it is a woman, the hummingbird is placed with the photograph tied to it and it is simply placed on the altar.

Moreover, for the incantation to supposedly take effect, tradition says that a prayer, known as La Chuparrosa, must be said.

One has to say a prayer explaining that one recognizes the importance of the hummingbird in biodiversity, because it is responsible for feeding on nectar, and asks that this same nectar has the capacity to reach the loved one, touch their soul, and attract the attention of the person to whom it is being linked. When a witch doctor is asked if any other bird can be used for the ritual, the answer is always negative. Since pre-Hispanic times, the hummingbird has been considered a sacred animal, linked to the gods, and a symbol of eternal love.

Aztec legend has it that long ago there were two children who grew up and fell madly in love with each other. His name was Huitzilin, and hers, Xochitl. One day, the young man had to go to war, and soon after, he lost his life in battle. Xochitl, broken with grief, begged the Sun God, Tonatiuh, to allow her to be reunited with the warrior, and he, moved, transformed her into a flower.

However, the bud remained closed until a small bird approached it. It was Huitzilin, who had become a hummingbird to return to his beloved. Recognizing him, she opened and showed her beautiful orange petals. Xochitl had the shape of a beautiful cempasĂșchil. Since then, it is said that as long as the Day of the Dead flower grows in Mexico and there are hummingbirds fluttering around it, the love of Hutzilin and Xochitl will endure.

This beautiful Aztec belief led some people to consider the species as an amulet for love and to create senseless sadistic rites in which the animal is sacrificed or mistreated to manipulate the feelings of the desired person. However, pre-Hispanic civilizations did not perform these rites, since the Mexica had great respect for these birds. This is the origin of this type of magical-religious ritual, but before that, the Mexica ancestors enjoyed these animals very much and appreciated having them alive.

In Mexico, hummingbird traffickers capture them in wild areas and then distribute them to traditional markets, where they sell them for between 10 and 15 dollars. In Mexico, mainly in Mexico City, they are sold in traditional markets, such as the Sonora market, where different magic-religious rituals are practiced and many religions converge. Catching a specimen is completely forbidden since many species of hummingbirds are threatened or endangered.

Currently, in America, there are 330 species. In Mexico City, there are about four species of hummingbirds. And here, these populations are in danger of extinction. And why? The urbanization of the habitat and the lack of pollinating plants are the most serious problems. The use of agrochemicals is also affecting hummingbirds, as well as climate change and the illegal capture of these animals.

NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010 protects 12 types of hummingbirds, considering them at risk. And in Mexico City, Article 13.B.1 of the capital's constitution prohibits the mistreatment of any animal, which it considers "sentient beings".

It is completely illegal to capture these little animals. They are in the norm 059/2010 of the Semarnat, and in Mexico City Article 13 of the Constitution establishes that they are sentient beings and that anyone who causes the death of an animal must pay a punitive penalty. In this case, of course, animals for consumption, farm animals, fall outside the norm. But the hummingbird does not fall into this category, so it is protected by the Semarnat, by the Constitution of Mexico City, and the Law for the Protection of Animals of Mexico City.

From the authorities, they insist that these sadistic rites must be eradicated, and to this end, they have launched awareness campaigns near traditional markets, in order to make the population understand that the hummingbird is a bird with a vital function for biodiversity and that it is much better to appreciate it alive.

This is a crime to do and encourages more violence. The best thing to do is to have live hummingbirds, and you can do it from your balcony, from your window, it is not necessary to have a garden, if we have pots with plants we can enjoy them, appreciate the hummingbird fluttering alive instead of having it as a dead amulet.

Because of its metabolism, the hummingbird cannot survive in captivity. It flutters between 80 and 200 times per second and its heart beats at about 200 beats per minute. But if we want, we can see them hanging around close to home if we place the right pollinating plants, such as the sabita, azalea, bougainvillea, or gigante.

To this end, the Mexican Institute of Fauna, Flora, and Social Sustainability organizes free workshops to teach citizens how to create these special gardens, which also help the ecosystem. How nice it would be if the loved one would arrive and instead of finding a dead amulet, they would find a garden with flowers.

Turtle eggs, pigeons, and roosters

Hummingbirds are not the only species affected by foolish superstitions and depraved Valentine's Day rituals. Sea turtle eggs are also consumed around this time. They are considered the best aphrodisiacs, that is what they say, but we know it is not so, but unfortunately, there is a belief that turtle eggs are the best aphrodisiacs and they are also widely consumed in the country. In Mexico City, they are sold on the black market, mainly in Tepito.

In Tepito these eggs are sold illegally, unfortunately, the authorities have not been able to enter. They have turned a blind eye because practically this black market is joined by the big drug trafficking mafias. It is a very serious issue, but at the same time what a lot of people need to know is that turtle eggs are not an aphrodisiac and that you can also get sick with salmonella and can have a very serious gastrointestinal problem. Furthermore, on February 14, pigeons and roosters are also used in Santeria rituals. But since they are considered farm animals, they are not protected by any regulations.

Source: Infobae