Mayan Calendars 101

September 5, 2022
Nick

The mayan long calendar

Mayan Calendars 101

The most famous of all mayan calendars is the one that predicts the end of the world in December 2012. This calendar isn’t an ancient manuscript, but was instead created by the mayans near the beginning of the 20th century to help educate people about their culture and predict the future.

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However, this calendar is not accurate enough to be used for predicting precise dates. It only gives estimates within 10 days.

The reason it says they were so concerned with education is because the mayas believed the longer you lived, the better off you were. Longer life meant more time to learn things, meet others, have conversations, share ideas, use knowledge, make discoveries, etc.

Thus, when we talk about them creating a calendar to try to figure out the end of the world, I think it speaks volumes about how much they valued knowledge; he who does not value knowledge as someone worth knowing, cannot be known.

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As humans, we spend so much time and energy focusing on what we don’t want to happen versus what can go wrong if we do decide to take action. We worry more about death than we do about living.

That’s why there are still cavemen thinking today’s smart phone is cool.

The mayan short calendar

Mayan Calendars 101

The most famous of all mayan calendars is the one known as the long or great calendar. It had five periods = 20 days each

The first period was called uinal 1, corresponding to August 22 through September 21, 2013

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Uinals were used for planting purposes by tilling soil in order to mark when plants would grow. This also marked the date that priests kept track of who was going to serve what function at the next ceremony.

Each subsequent year became another cycle with its own number and name. For example, this year will be UINAL 2 and so on.

In addition to the long calendar, there were two shorter calendars that predicted events for specific years. These are the guatemala calendars and the yucatec calendars.

The mayan full calendar

Mayan Calendars 101

The most well-known form of the mayan calendars is the so-called “full” or grand calendar. This includes 519 days divided into 20 months used for measuring years (the long year) as well as 365 days divided into 12 months used for daily purposes.

Each month of the full calendar represents 30 days. By combining the length of each monthly segment with the number of months in the given year, we can calculate the age at death of an individual who lived until the end of that year.

For example, if someone born on January 1st, 2012 lives to the end of December 31st, 2016, they will have completed 16 years. If they add the day of birth (January 2nd, 1992) up through 2019, it equals 16 years. Another way to look at this is; by adding any date (the first of January for example) up through 2020, you get a total of 32 years.

This means an infant born on February 3rd, 2020 would be 47 years old using our calculation. Although there are several different versions of the full calendar, all agree that the year begins on the spring equinox and ends on the autumnal equinox.

The ancient mayans also tracked the seasons but not necessarily according to weekdays or dates. The tracks were called kin bahai’a’, which is the word for season in Maya. Kin refers to a group, class,

The mayan new calendar

There were many different calendars used by the ancient Maya, but the most well-known is the Long Count Calendar. This was not the only calendar they had, but it was the one that reflected the core values of their culture.

The longer count calendar starts with the date today as 0 AUC (0 being a letter ‘A’ followed by a number ‘1’) and goes back 20 times as many days. (20 letters ‘K’ or numbers ‘5’). What this means is that you can name the day after January 1st, 2019 until December 25th, 2024.

This long count dates from tomorrow method was probably first taught to the ancients by K'inich Kan Bahlam II who invented the writing system we use today. He built the city named Chichen Itza high upon the mountains where he ruled the people using his understanding of the future.

By having a place for every day in the month next after each year's end, he allowed for easy calculation and prediction of the years to come. Add in the importance of the sun/star for early morning beings, and the connection made between religion and astronomy is clear.

Many other cultures throughout history have valued the earth and its cycles. Knowing when exactly things grow best, produce best, or are ripe makes sense no?

The mayan codex

Mayan Calendars 101

The most famous of all ancient mayan calendars is the one called the cuboid calendar. It was used in many places throughout the city, including the pyramids at Chichen Itza and Palenque.

This calendar had months of different lengths between them (the year consisted of 20 days). One month consists of 30 days; five months consist of 80 days, and so on.

The longer a month is, the later it is in the season. For example, February, which has approximately 28 days, is late in the season, while January, with only 27 days, is early in the season. This difference adds up over several years, making February the winter month and January the summer month.

There are also two special dates that stand out on the mayan calendar. These are the first day of the week and the last day of the month. They were important dates that got marked off as milestones or events happened.

The mayan ballgame

Mayan Calendars 101

The ancient mayans played a game called The Ball Game, also known as The Game of the Three Brothers (the translation of its name). It was probably made famous by the ancients in the area that became modern-day Mexico.

However, it is believed that the game went back further than that. Archeologists found that the game was being played around 10,000 B.C., which means it had been in existence for at least 1,000 years before the time of the ancients.

Furthermore, the game itself was very similar to the modern day nahuatl game, even going so far as having names and words that are pronounced similarly. This suggests that the game originated from Nahuatl culture or someone else who lived along the Mexican coast.

The mayan number system

Mayan Calendars 101

The ancients were able to predict some events years in advance. Their methods of prediction are known as their calendars.

The most famous of these is the dateline called the macaricual, which tells the story of the end of the world. It predicts the collapse of the sky and the falling down of the sun into our planet’s center. (This happens every 190000 days or so.)

According to the macaricual, at this time there will be no more day nor night; everything will be hidden under the earth for 40 days. Fire will turn to smoke and smoke to ice crystals. There will be two weeks when nothing grows because all the nutrients have been used up. People will go mad from hunger. Some will eat other people. A few would survive but it would not be pretty.

The mayan date language

Mayan Calendars 101

Most people are familiar with the international date system, which uses the month-day format (examples):

31st day of the month

However, there’s another way the ancient mayans counted time. It’s more difficult to understand at first but it provides us with an important insight into their culture: they counted time in terms of cycles.

The most significant difference between the two counting systems is that the mayan calendar used a base 12 number system, while the international date system has a base 10 number system.

What this means is that when the mayas wanted to count something like days, weeks, or months, they started with one unit (1) and then multipled by twelve.

For example, we can multiply 1 by twelve to get twelve units (12), meaning one week. They didn’t have minutes or hours so they used parts of the week as the smallest unit.

Here’s what each part of the week looks like in the mayan date system : [substeps] Day name symbol Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Remember that these names were written down in stone somewhere? Probably not! But if you read the comments below those dates, you could find out more about them.

Also, keep in mind that how the mayas marked their days changed depending on who they were talking to (i.e., which town/culture they were writing to

The mayan creation story

Mayan Calendars 101

The most famous aspect of the Maya is their calendar, which they used to keep track of important events.

The long count date stone found in Spain has been linked to the Mayan calendar.

This dating method starts with the first moment of time (the beginning) and counts forward in increments of 52 weeks for several thousand years until it reaches the present day.

By my calculations, this would put the current year at around AD 2012. So what?

Well, unlike the Gregorian calendar, mayan calendars didn’t have seasons. For them, winter was just spring break plus one week. And so when we refer to “Mayan calenders” today, that means mayan calendars without seasons.

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