How Is The Aztec Calendar Different From Ours ?

How Is The Aztec Calendar Different From Ours ?

The Aztec & Gregorian calendars are two separate and different methods to describe time measurement. The Aztec Calendar (or Sun Stone) has piqued the interest of archaeologists, historians, and conspiracy theorists alike since its discovery in 1790. Its usage has been interpreted in a variety of ways, but until recently, nearly everyone accepted that it was some kind of calendar. However, a recent study has revealed evidence indicating the contrary. 

How Accurate Were The Aztec Calendars?

The Aztec calendar is pretty accurate to today’s methods of calendaring despite being quite different. Every 400 years, the Gregorian calendar, which was created in 1582, includes 97 leap years. The Aztec estimate of 365.2420 days per year turns out to be closer to the true number of 365.2422 days than the ancient Julian figure of 365.2500 days or even our present Gregorian value of 365.2425 days.

Individual days and intervals of days were also assigned gods in the calendar, emphasizing the Aztec idea that time and daily living were inextricably linked to religious beliefs. Every 52 years, the precise alignment of the calendars was seen as extremely significant and fortunate.

Is The Aztec And Mayan Calendar The Same?

No they aren’t. The Aztecs used two calendars; however, the Mayans used three calendar systems. The Aztec calendar is based on the Mayan calendar but much less complicated than the Mayan calendar. The Mayan calendar’s Haab dates are analogous to the Aztec calendar’s Xiuhpohuali dates.

Both civilizations utilized the same system, which was created by the Zapotecs in pre-urban times and extended across Mesoamerica. The fully established calendar system was already in use when the first Mesoamerican metropolis, which is our modern-day Monte Alban, arose and was carved into numerous monuments there.

The Aztec calendar not only kept track of time but also religious holidays. People used to utilize the calendar to determine the best times to produce crops, as well as when to please Gods to get their benefits. 

The 365-day year was divided into 18 months of 20 days each, with ill luck days accounting for the remaining 5 days after the year. The liturgical calendar had 260 days and was known as Tonalpohualli, which translates to “count of days.” Even if both calendars were running at the same time, the same day only happened once every 52 years.

Mayans were highly talented people who understood that the Universe ran in cycles, which they realized when they observed star object motions. They devised a system that included three calendars: the Long Count, Haab, and Tzolkin. Long periods were computed using the Long Count; Haab was the civil calendar, while Tzolkin was the sacred calendar. 

The Mayan calendar gained a lot of popularity and was adopted by a lot of different cultures and civilizations during the period. All three calendars have a fixed number of days, and a new cycle begins only once that number of days has elapsed. Haab is the only one of these three calendars that conforms to the contemporary Christian 365-day calendar.

What Does The Aztec Calendar Stand For?

The Aztec calendar primarily stands for tracking religious festivals and ceremonies which explains the dedication of the Aztec peoples towards their gods. 

Because of its primary use as a divinatory tool, the Tonalpohualli, or day-count, has been dubbed a holy calendar. It separates the gods’ days and rites into days and rituals. This is highly essential to the Aztec mentality. Without it, the world would wind up dead.

In the Aztec calendar the Aztec sun god Tonatiuh’s face appearing in the center of the stone, flanked by four square panels honoring past incarnations of the god that signify the world’s four eras.

Why Did The Aztecs Have 2 Different Calendars?

There isn’t just one Aztec calendar; there are two, each of which is more or less autonomous. The Xiuhpohualli, a 365-day calendar, is one of them. It may be termed the agricultural year or the solar year since it outlines the days and rituals associated with the seasons. There are 260 days on the other calendar and is called Tonalpohualli. 

The 365-day year, also known as the xihuitl, is made up of 18 months (meztli) of 20 days (also known as veintenas) plus five additional (unlucky) days. The xihuitl gets its (tonalpohualli-) name from the final day of the last veintena of the year, according to Caso. The calendar displays the “Xihuitl” material under this name. 

Only four-day signs may “carry” (i.e. name) the year, according to a simple computation. For the Aztec calendar, they are Calli, Tochtli, Acatl, and Tecpatl. According to a similar assessment, the xihuitl population grows every year. So year one is Calli, year two is Tochtli, and so on. This indicates that the year’s name will be the same every 52 years (4 times 13).

Imagine two wheels connected to understand the tonalpohualli system. The numerals “one” to “thirteen” are inscribed on one wheel. The second wheel includes a total of twenty symbols. The number “one” is combined with the first sign at the beginning. The tonalpohualli’s first day has arrived. The wheels are now turning, and the number “two” has merged with the second glyph. The second day has arrived. An Aztec week (trecena in Spanish) of thirteen days has gone after fourteen days. The number “one” appears on the number wheel once more. The fourteenth symbol is now displayed on the opposite wheel. The two wheels have restored to their original positions after 260 days.


The Aztec calendars, which had been in use from the beginning of the Southern American peoples’ Cultural Revolution, placed a high value on the study and knowledge of time and space. The Aztec calendars shaped who these people were culturally, and the incorporation of religion, myth, and time aided some ceremonial activities.

The Aztecs coupled calendar events with rites to demonstrate to the people that their lives were better as a result of the wisdom that the priests gained from the gods. The ability to measure time and place allowed Aztec leaders to demonstrate similar activity among the people throughout history.

In addition to their calendar, the Aztecs demonstrated outstanding engineering & empire governance talents, allowing them to prevent flooding in their capital city and to build and control a powerful empire. You can also go head to this link to learn more about their accomplishments. Enjoy the read!