General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Mar 2019/13 Lizard
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Our In-House Team

Question for August 2017

What was the Aztecs’ greatest fear? Asked by Chigwell School (Junior Dept.). Chosen and answered by Our In-House Team.

A Mexican mural painter’s version of the Aztec New Fire Ceremony
A Mexican mural painter’s version of the Aztec New Fire Ceremony (Click on image to enlarge)

Without a doubt, the one thing all Mexica (Aztec) people were afraid of was the end of their world - what they called the Fifth Sun. They believed that our world has ‘come and gone’ (been created and then destroyed) four times in the past and that we’re now living (so were they) in the fifth and last Sun. Each previous Sun had been destroyed because it had got badly out of balance. According to their ancient calendar systems, each Sun consisted of many cycles of 52 years (a bit like our ‘century’) and the world can only come to an end after completing a 52-year cycle. They were always terrified that the world might end during the last (five) days of one of these 52-year cycles (which they called a ‘bundle of reeds’). That’s why, every 52 years, they organised an enormous ‘New Fire Ceremony’ to celebrate the start of a new 52-year cycle. It was the biggest festival in the Aztecs’ calendar. You can learn more about it from the link below...

Picture: detail of mural by Antonio González Orozco, Hospital de Jesús Nazareno, Mexico City; photo by Eva Sánchez Fernández/Mexicolore.

Read more about ‘The New Fire Ceremony’ in our Aztec Stories pages

Our In-House Team has answered 21 questions altogether:

Did the Aztecs have different types of chewing gum to today’s?

Did the Aztecs have a god of snow?

Which parts of the Day of the Dead festival go back to the Aztecs?

Why did they put holes [gaps] in the [upright huehuetl] drums?

Was Snake Woman an Aztec empress?

How big was the Aztec army?

Did they have First Aid?

Which pet was the Aztecs’ favourite?

Why did they call them ‘chinampas’?

Did the Spanish have an interpreter when they conquered the Aztecs?

Which was the Aztecs’ most fearsome weapon?

Why was the Sun God called Tonatiuh?

Did they send post (mail)?

Did they have the same seasons as we do?

What did they do with the shells of armadillos after eating the meat?

Why didn’t Aztec houses have doors?

Which was the biggest group [job sector] in Aztec society?

Why is it better to support loads on the forehead and not on the shoulders?

When children were punished, how long were they held over smoking chillies for?

What was the Aztecs’ greatest fear?

Why did the Aztecs believe gold was the poo of the Sun God?

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