Mayan hieroglyphics for Kids
The Maya had two kinds of calendars, a religious calendar called the Tzolk'in and a solar calendar called the Haab'. Every 52 years the two calendars would start on the same day. They would celebrate the New Fire Festival on this day (El Fuego Nuevo). All the fires throughout their households would be put out and they would throw away all their clay utensils. It was a time of renewal and new beginnings.
The solar calendar, or Haab', had 18 months of 20 days each. There were five extra "unlucky" days in the 19th month to get to total of 365 days in a year. They numbered the days in the month from 0 to 19. Here is a list of the 19 Maya months in the Haab' calendar:
The Maya also had a third calendar they used for historical purposes. It was called the Long Count Calendar. The Long Count calendar started on August 11, 3114 BC. This was the day on which the Maya believed the world was created. Some people think that the Maya also predicted the end of the world to be on December 21, 2012.
Interesting Facts about Maya Writing, Numbers, and Calendar
- Unfortunately, when the Spanish found the Maya codices (books), they thought they were evil and burned them. Only a few survived.
- The Maya wrote using black ink made from coal and quills made from turkey feathers.
- Each Maya month had a glyph that represented the month. Some of the glyphs also represented animals. For example, the glyph for the month of Sotz also meant bat, Xul meant dog, Muwan meant owl, and K'ayab meant turtle.
- The word "Kin" was used to represent a day. It also meant "sun".
- The base-20 number system is called the vigesimal system. The Maya wrote large numbers in powers of 20.
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