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The Aztec Calendar

The ancient Aztecs created and used two distinct calendars in their time. These two calendars served different functions. One of their calendars is xiuhpohualli, which is actually used to measure time. This calendar has 365 days on it and it displayed important information about events and rituals and their relation to the seasons. Because this calendar is driven mainly by the change of seasons, it symbolizes the agricultural or solar year. The Aztecs used this calendar to figure out when it was the best time for crops. Also, a year in this calendar was divided into 18 months. Months had 20 days and 5 extra days were at the end of each year, which were referred to as being days of bad luck and disastrous.

The second calendar called tonalpohualli, or "count of days," has a 260-day cycle. This calendar is known for being sacred and religious due to the fact that the days and rituals are divided among the gods. The Aztecs value this immensely in their culture because they worshiped their gods and believed that it is a necessity to divide time up amongst the gods equally in order to keep the balance. If this would fail, the Aztecs believed that a spiritual war would erupt and result in ending the world. There is a certain way of understanding the tonalpohualli calendar. Firstly, it is made of two interconnecting wheels. One of the wheels is numbered 1-13, and the second wheel has twenty different symbols. The first day of this Aztec calendar is created by combining the number "1" with the first symbol that is on the second wheel. The rest of the days are determined the same way. The combination of the number "2" with the second symbol creates the second day on the calendar. The day count began with the following symbols: 1 Crocodile, 2 Wind, 3 House, 4 Lizard and all the way up to 13 Reed. The numbers then began once more with 1 Jaguar, 2 Eagle, 3 Vulture, etc. As the 20 day signs and 13 numbers continued alongside each other daily, they led to 260 uniquely named days. Furthermore, the first week passes as soon 13 days are over. Following that, the first wheel goes back to the number "1," while the wheel with symbols continues to go on the fourteenth symbol and so on. Both wheels complete their rotations and return to their starting point when 260 days are over. Then, this cycle starts once again. This calendar successfully helped the Aztecs distribute days and dedicate them to their 20 gods. Each day that was dedicated to one of their gods was referred to as a dayssign. The Aztecs truly lived their lives according to these dayssigns. For example, if a child was born on a "bad" day would not receive his or her name until it was a good day. The Aztec calendar stone remains to be one of the most famous and cherished symbols of Mexico today.

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