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The Rituals of the Aztec Month of Panquetzaliztli

John Schwaller, University at Albany, Summer Fellow 2017–2018

I completed work on a major study on the rituals and ceremonies of the month of Panquetzaliztli. The Mexica (Aztecs) used a solar calendar of eighteen months of twenty days each, with each month having a set of ceremonies and rituals. Panquetzaliztli occurred in the late fall or early winter, ending around December 20, and was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the Mexica tribal god. I concluded that within the ceremonies of Panquetzaliztli are traces of three major events in Mexica history. Foremost is the rise of the Mexica as the dominant power in the Triple Alliance, after 1427. Secondly, the civil war with Tlatelolco of 1473 also appears within the celebrations, as a prominent role is given to leading merchants, placing them on a par with warriors. Thirdly, the reforms of Moteuczoma II are reflected in the shift of the New Fire Ceremony from the spring to be celebrated in conjunction with Panquetzaliztli. Linked to this is the shift of the New Fire from One Rabbit to Two Reed. Lastly, the month reflects the rise of Huitzilopochtli as the dominant deity and as the lord of the Fifth Sun, breaking from the Mesoamerican tradition of only four creations.