So, I ‘made’ a Calendar

I’m sure that other people have had this experience, especially when they start to actively worship, but I find it quite difficult to maintain a proper ritual schedule. It is easy to forget to organise anything, or to get distracted by work and/or family commitments. This is especially true if the ritual requires some preparation time. In order to rectify this, I have adapted a version of the Nahua Xiuhpohualli into a document that I could use to manage my ritual schedule. I wanted to share my experience creating it with everyone here, as I know that calendrics are important for many polytheistic religions, and others may be interested. It is also very much a work in progress, and so I wouldn’t mind getting some advice/feedback if anyone here has done it before.

Creating the format was actually quite easy. Each Nahua month is only 20 days long (plus 5 extra days in their own special month), and there are 18 months. Put that in a grid on a page, give a brief historical description of the festivities, pair it with some art and its done. Eventually, I want to create my own art for the document, but that is not essential at the moment. The problem started when I tried to find out when festivals are actually supposed to happen. The two primary sources, Duran and Sahagun, are often not clear when certain festivals were actually supposed to take place, and neither agrees with the other. It is not even clear when the Nahua year was supposed to begin. Duran claimed March 1st, while Sahagun thought it was February 2nd. According to Rafael Tena, they were both wrong. It was either 13th Feb for the Julian Calendar, or 23rd Feb for the Gregorian Calendar. And I’m not sure which Sahagun and Duran used! Then I had to convert dates of festivals into a modern date, which was difficult. If Duran says a festival was performed on 5th July, do I do it on that date, or do I adjust for his incorrect placing of the New Year? I decided on this option, partly in order to sidestep the Georgian/Julian Calendar problem. I figure, if it a festival is a certain number of days from Duran’s New Year, I’ll put it the same number of days from the actual New Year.

I also had to decide what to do about the leap-year. Although a few sources deny its existence in Mesoamerica, both Sahagun and Duran confirmed that Nahua’s acknowledged it, so I decided to follow their guidance and add it to the 5 extra days at the end of the year. Furthermore, I don’t know if this leap-year is supposed to happen at the same time as the European leap year, or in another year (1 in 4 chance), but I decided that they should be at the same time. I figure that is the most logical and workable solution.

The next problem was trying to adapt Nahua festivals into something I can actually perform. Most of the festivals described in Sahagun were multi-stage affairs which involved dozens, if not hundreds of people, days of organisation, and vast amounts of resources, none of which I have. So, I tried to distil some key thematic elements into something I can achieve. This is a big challenge, and to be honest I’m still working on it. At the moment, all I have is a few notes. My idea is that by trying to follow this ritual schedule and performing the ceremonies will give me a better insight into how each should be run. I will also start to include information from secondary sources as I come across it, which will hopefully allow me to refine and structure each ceremony better. From this, I hope to develop a detailed program which others might be able to follow.

Hope everyone found this interesting.

Happy New Year!


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