The Maya calendar is based on sets of
interlocking cycles. Sacred numbers (4, 9, and 13) play key roles,
as well as the numbering system based on units of 20. Methods of
timekeeping include: 260-day Tzolk'in calendar;
365-day Vague Year Haab' calendar;
52-year Calendar Round; Long Count; Short Count; 819-day Count.
There are many components of the calendar and a
brief overview does not do it justice. But just to give you an
idea, here we go. If you want to understand it in more detail,
take a look at the links below.
The Tzolk'in calendar, the 260-day
sacred calendar, was used as a guide for rituals and ceremonial life .
Patterns of ceremonial live, prophecy, and name giving were founded on
this sacred calendar. It had a duration of 260 days (260 kins)
which corresponds with the gestation period of human childbearing.
This ritual calendar was set by thirteen numbers and twenty day names
(13 x 20).
The Tzolk'in calendar: 13 numbers cycle
around 20 day names = 260 days
Haab' Solar Calendar,
There are 19 months in the Haab' calendar which followed the
solar year of 365 days. Eighteen of the months have 20 days and the
final month called Uayed (Wayeb), had five days. The five nameless
days of Wayeb were times of fear and was considered a dangerous, ill-omened
period. This calendar was used for seasons and agriculture.
Months are associated with the earth, maize seed, and dry seasons.
The Calendar Round integrates the
Tzolk'in and Haab' calendars.
To completely cycle through the entire system of this Calendar Round
it takes 52 years. To express a date from the Calendar Round
four parts are necessary: the Tzolk'in
day number; the Tzolk'in day
sign; the Haab' day number; the Haab' month sign.
For example, 12 Akbal 2 Pop. The problem with the
Calendar Round was that it repeated itself every 52 years.
There was no way to tell in which 52-year period a specific date
took place. So the Long Count system was introduced.
The Long Count was used to
express a continuous record of time. The beginning of the
current cycle of time began with the Maya date of 126.96.36.199.0 4 Ahaw
8 Kumk'u (August 11, 3114 B.C.E.). The duration of this fourth
cycle of creation is 13 bak'tuns, after which time the count
will return to zero and begin the fifth creation.
21, 2012. It is believed that a new
cycle will begin.
Units of time in the Long Count:
K'in - the day
Winal and Tun - month
and year (18 winals = 1 tun)
K'atun - decade (endings of
k'atuns were designated times for important rituals)
Bak'tun - 144,000 days (20
k'atuns = 1 bak'tun)
Sites with detailed information on the