Panquetzaliztli, the most important of the Aztec holidays, lasted twenty days in the fifteenth month, commemorating Huitzilopochtli’s overthrow Coyolxauqui, his sister the moon, and his four brothers, Centzonhuitznahua, the southern stars. Some scholars also believe the festival was a celebration of the birth of Aztec civilization.
The ceremony included raising a figure made of roasted corn mixed with maguay syrup. The figure was brought to the temple courtyard by marriageable girls, dressed in their best feathers and wreaths, accompanied by young bachelors carrying corn. After wreathes, feathers and garlands were presented to the figure, the people bowed down, and ate dirt…
… as the people cleansed their palates with amaranth bread (the the marriageable girls and young bachelors paired off), a slave was sent running through the Aztec towns carrying the figure. In each town, there were human sacrifices, as there were in Tenochtitlán, where the running slave’s return was eagerly awaited. With his return, the party could begin in earnest, with hearts ripped out of waiting sacrificial victims, including the returned slave.
As the crowd no doubt sang classic Panquetzaliztli carols.
(Así era la ‘Navidad’ azteca, Chilango, 23 December 2014)