The Aztec New Year in Mexico falls on March 12 every year. This year we are celebrating Matlactli ihuan Acatl Xihuitl, 11 Carrizo, 11 Reed — we celebrate our New Year.
We often imagine time as a linear concept, a straight line running from one point to another. But this is not the case in the circle of life in Mesoamerica. Mesoamerican timekeeping practices date far back, well before colonization, and are often misunderstood as antiquated.
Mesoamerican calendars were, and for some of us, still are, a living calendar consulted on multiple levels concerning spiritual matters, agricultural planting, harvesting, ceremonial doings, naming ceremonies and much, much more. It is our interconnectedness with the cosmos, our guidance to ourselves and who we are in the mystery of life that we consult the calendar and celebrate the New Year. It is a cyclical motion that orientates the past, present and the future.
The Mexica Azteca calendar is a 365-day calendar cycle comprising two parts that run simultaneously. The first is the year count or xiuhpohualli. The second is tonalpohualli, where the counting of the days is a 260-day ritual cycle. The Aztec solar year is 18 months of 20 days each, 5 extra days, called nemontemi. Each day count is from 1-13 with a deity associated with the day count. For example, March 12, is 11 Reed.
Our New Year celebrations begin with ceremonial dances and songs; we invite the drum to ring in the New Year and remind us of the voices of our ancestors through the sound of the drum. We live our ceremonies through our presence in our cultural practices and way of being. We know who we are because we are a living practice of ceremony.
We are often asked how the Mexica Azteca calendar relates to the Gregorian calendar. It does not — it is a completely different calendar.
The Mexica Azteca calendar is often called the Sun Calendar, which marks the days and rituals related to the seasons. It is often called the agricultural year or solar year, which is the 365 civil calendar.
Happy New Year Mexica Aztecas!
Linda M. Velarde lives in Taos.
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