Calendars of the Place of Reeds

The Place of Reeds uses the three calendar systems of Mesoamerica: 260 day ritual calendar, 365 day vague calendar and the 52 year bundle.

260 day ritual calendar

In this, the most common and ancient of Mesoamerican calendars, 20 day names pairs with 13 day numbers, yielding a count of 260 days (Miller & Taube, 1993). This calendar was the most important for foretelling the future; each day sign and number offered clues for interpretation. Many gods and humans took their name from this calendar, and both gifts and faults were conferred by the birth date. The 260 days probably derives the need to predict the birth date, as it roughly corresponds to the human gestation period, i.e. from time of the first missed menstrual cycle to birth.

The 260 year was grouped into 20 trecena of 13 days (Miller & Taube, 1993). The first day of each trecena always had the day number 1. The auguries of this first day applied to all days within the trecena.

The day names differed slightly depending on the region, but the following table is indicative (based on Miller & Taube, 1993, p. 49, and the Aztec Calendar page of the Mexico Connect site).

Aztec Day Name Meaning, Association Aztec Patron Augury for those born in the trecena 1-Day Name
Crocodile Surface of the earth Tonacatecuhtli- Lord of our Sustenance; male aspect of dual gods
Wind Wind Quetzalcoatyl- Plumbed Serpent; god of knowledge and the preisthood
House Night, darkness, jaguar Tepeyolohtli- Heart of the Mountain; jaguar god of the interior earth
Lizard Maize, abundance Huehuecoyotl- Old Coyote; back-biter or mischief-maker
Serpent Serpent Chalchiuhtlicue- Lady of the jade skirt; goddess of ground waters
Death Death Tecciztecatl-He from the sea-snail; moon god
Deer Deer Tlaloc- He who makes things sprout; god of rain and earth fertility
Rabbit Venus, Rabbit Mayahuel- She of the maguey plant; goddess of pulque (maguey wine)
Water Water Xiuhtecuhtli- Lord of the year; fire god, patron of rulers Impoverished; entire trecena generally bad.
Dog Dog Miclantecuhtli- Lord of Mictlan (Region of the Dead); god of death
Monkey Monkey Xochipilli- Flower Prince; god of flowers and plants
Grass Patecatl- He from the Land of Medicines; god of medicinal plants
Reed Tezcatlipoca- Smoking mirror; major creator of god, god of fate
Jaguar Jaguar Tlazolteotl- Eater of Filth; earth mother
Eagle Eagle Xipe- Totec- Our Flayed Lord; god of seeding and planting
Vulture Itzapapalotl- Obsidian Butterfly; stellar and agricultural goddess
Motion Earth, earthquake Xolotl- Twin; Monster god, twin of Quetzalcoatl
Flint Flint Chalchiuhtotolin- Guise of Tezcatlipoca; god of night and the mysterious
Rain Rain, Storm Chantico- In the House; goddess of the hearth
Flower Sun Xochiquetzal- Flower of the Rich Plume; goddess of flowers

365 day vague calendar

The 365 day vague calendar corresponded roughly to the solar year, but lacked the leap years (Miller & Taube, 1993). This lack meant the calendar drifted slowly out of alignment with the seasons, and seasonal festivals would need to be moved. The 365 year was divided into 18 veintena of 20 days, plus 5 unlucky days at the end of the year. The unlucky days were considered particularly dangerous and a child born during that time was ill-omened.

Each vague year was named after a day in the 260 day ritual calendar – these days were called yearbearers and historical dates were given by the yearbear name (Miller & Taube, 1993). Most people, including the Maya, named their vague years after the first day of the ritual calendar; the Aztecs named them after the last day of the 18th veintena, i.e. the day before the unlucky days.

The following table is based on the Aztec Calendar page of the Mexico Connect site.

Veincena No. Veincena Name Aztec Patron Gods Aztec Rituals
I. Ceasing of Water Tlaloc, Chachihutlicue Children sacrificed to water gods
II. Flaying of Men Xipe-Totec Gladiatorial sacrifice; dances by priest wearing the flayed skin of victims
III. Little Vigil Coatlicue, Tlaloc Flayed skins buried, child sacrifices
IV. Great Vigil Centeotl, Chicomecacoatl Blessing of new corn; maiden sacrificed
V. Dryness Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli Impersonators of these major gods sacrificed
VI. Meal of Maize & Beans Tlaloques Impersonators of water deities sacrificed by drowning; ritual bathing and dances
VII. Small feast of the Lords Huixtocihuatl, Xochipilli Impersonators of the gods sacrificed; ceremony of salt workers
VIII. Great feast of the Lords Xilonen Feast for goddess of young corn, lords offer gifts and feast for commoners
IX. Birth of Flowers Huizilopochtli All the gods festooned with garlands; feasting on corn-meal cakes and turkey
X. Fall of Fruit Hueymiccaihuitl (great feast of the dead) Xiuhtecuhtli Ceremonial pole climbing competition; Sacrifice to fire gods by roasting victims alive
XI. Sweeping of the Roads Tlazolteotl Sweeping of house and roads; mock combat
XII. Return of the Gods Tezcatlipoca Ceremonies welcoming gods returning to earth; ceremonial drunkenness, sacrifices by fire
XIII. Feast of the Hills Tlaloc Ceremonies for mountain rain gods; human sacrifices and ceremonial cannibalism
XIV. Precious Feather Mixcoatl-Camaxtli Ritualistic hunt following fast; sacrifice of game and ceremonial feasting
XV. Raising of the Banner Huitzilopochtli Homes and fruit trees decorated with paper banners; race-procession; massive sacrifices
XVI. Water Descends Tlaloc Festival honouring water gods; children and slaves sacrificed
XVII. Stretching Llamatecuhtli Sympathetic magic to bring rain; women beaten with straw-filled bags to make them cry
XVIII. Resuscitation Xiuhtecuhtli Image of god made from amaranth dough; feasting on tamales stuffed with greens
Empty days Five unlucky days; no rituals, general fasting

52 year bundle

Every 52 years (18,98 days) the 260-day calendar and the 365-day calendar synchronised (Miller & Taube, 1993). The Aztecs called this a Year Bundle and celebrated the completion of a year bundle with a new fire ceremony in the Raising of the Banner veincena.


Aztec Calendar page of the Mexico Connect site.

Miller, M., & Taube, K. (1993). An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson.

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