The Mexica New Year (Año Nuevo Mexicano or Año Nuevo Azteca in Spanish and Yancuic Xīhuitl in Nahuatl languages) or Atzec New Year is the celebration of the new year according to the Aztec calendar and it is generally considered to occur at sunrise on 12 March.
The holiday is observed in some Nahua communities in Mexico, groups of indigenous people who live in Mexico and parts of El Salvador, and some of the most important events occur in Huauchinango, Naupan, Mexico City, Zongolica, and Xicotepec.
We often imagine time as a linear concept, as a straight line running from point A to B.
Well, the Aztecs took a radically different view, in which basically time was a force, and It provided energy and change.
Time was often a harbinger of miracles and the Aztecs viewed it through a lens of continual creation, destruction, and regeneration.
Given the ebb and flow of life itself, we think that Aztec New Year celebrates an ancient culture whose ideas still find resonance today.
For those who celebrate, March 12 is a date with plenty of symbolism, traditions, and celebrations.
Historically, from 1300 to 1521, the Aztecs rose to power and influence as the center of Mesoamerican culture.
They followed the Mexica or Aztec calendar, a 365-day calendar cycle comprising two parts that ran simultaneously. The first was the year count or xiuhpohualli, and the second was tonalpohualli, or ‘counting of the days’ — a 260-day ritual cycle.
Yancuic Xihuitl celebrations today usually take place the night before, on March 11.
Expectedly, the celebrations are spectacular. Cities like Nuapan, Huauchinango, Xicotepec, Zongolica, and Mexico City organize numerous events on this day.
Celebrations commence with ceremonial dances and songs set to the beat of traditional drums, in which dancers come dressed in colorful traditional finery and quetzal feather headgear.
People present seeds as offerings and light ‘ocote’ or pitch-pine candles that produce aromatic (and extremely flammable) resin.
Towards the end of the ceremony, people burn a flag representing the year gone by and perfume a replacement flag.
Finally, they welcome the New Year by blowing into conch shells, the same way their ancestors used to centuries ago.