A very important calendar that the Maya used was called the Haab’.
The Haab’ is a secular calendar that has no religious or spiritual basis associated with it. This calendar simply counts a solar year of 365 days. Unfortunately, this calendar does not account for the extra quarter-day each year it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun. Our modern calendar corrects for this calculation offset by adding an extra day to February every four years, making a ‘Leap Year.’
The Maya didn’t calculate for the orbital offset on their Haab’ calendar, so the dating of their seasons would drift a bit as the years passed. The Haab’ calendar was used by the Maya to plan out their agricultural year by planting and harvesting seasons.
It was a calendar used to keep track of trade and other day to day record keeping purposes. This was the standard calendar used by everyone as they went about their daily lives.
All three of the Maya calendars, the Long Count, the Tzolkin, and the Haab’, are used simultaneously in Maya dating. The Tzolkin and the Haab’ mark and identify the names of the days and Long Count calendar marks, identifies, and counts the years.
For example, using the Maya calendar numbering system, a typical date would read as:
“188.8.131.52.0 / 4 Ahau / 8 Kumku”
- “184.108.40.206.0” is the Long Count calendar date,
- “4 Ahau” is the Tzolkin calendar date, and
- “8 Kumku” is the Haab’ calendar date.
Every Haab’ year counts its 365 days, while the Tzolkin calendar’s 260 days are counted along with it. One used spiritually for religious ceremonies and rituals and one used secularly for day to day life in agriculture and trade.
The Haab’s 365 day year was divided into eighteen 20-day ‘months’ the Maya called uinals. These eighteen twenty day uinals made for 360 days of the Haab’s year, a completed circle. This left the Haab’s year short five days. At the end of each year, the Maya had a five day period of rest at the end of each year called, the “Wayeb.”
The Maya believed this was the period of time when the gods rested after a long year.
It was during this time, people couldn’t count on any support or attention from the gods. During this five day period of the Wayeb, the Maya would perform ceremonies in preparation for the god’s return after their rest.
Read about: The Wayeb’ > >
This article is an excerpt from the book: Kane, Njord. The Maya : The Story of a People. 2nd ed. Yukon: Spangenhelm, 2016. ISBN: 978-1943066032 Used by permission from the author and publisher exclusively for use on readicon.com only.
- Kane, Njord. The Maya : The Story of a People. 2nd ed. Yukon: Spangenhelm, 2016. ISBN: 978-1943066032
- Schele, Linda, and David Freidel. “A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya.” New York: Harper Perennial. 1990.
- Thompson, J. Eric S. (1929). “Maya Chronology: Glyph G of the Lunar Series”. American Anthropologist, New Series 31 (2): pp.223–231. ISSN 0002-7294.
- Thompson, J. Eric S. (1971). Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, an Introduction. 3rd edition. Norman.
- “Clarifications: The Correlation Debate.” Excerpt from Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies (Borderlands Science and Research Foundation, 1994, pages 31-36):
- John Major Jenkins. “Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies.” Borderland Sciences Research Foundation; First Printing edition (1994). ISBN-10: 0945685165.
written by Njord Kane © 2016 Spangenhelm Publishing
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