General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Mar 2019/13 Lizard
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Our In-House Team

Question for April 2007

Which parts of the Day of the Dead festival go back to the Aztecs? Asked by Westwood Farm Junior School. Chosen and answered by Our In-House Team.

(Pic 1) From the Codex Vaticanus 3738
(Pic 1) From the Codex Vaticanus 3738 (Click on image to enlarge)

This question, from our good friends at Westwood Farm Junior School near Reading, we thought so good that it prompted us into preparing a whole feature on the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico and its Aztec/pre-Hispanic background. Follow the links below. Part 2 is specifically about the Aztecs, death and the afterlife.

(Pic 2) 3 traditional Mexican clay ‘trees of life’
(Pic 2) 3 traditional Mexican clay ‘trees of life’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Picture 1: According to Aztec beliefs, children who died as infants went to a special ‘heaven’ near Tlalocan (the paradise of the rain gods), called Chichihuacuauhco, where a sacred tree dripped milk from its branches to feed them. There they were in a kind of ‘limbo’, waiting for the present world to be destroyed, after which they would be reincarnated as the new human beings... (‘The Skeleton at the Feast’, Sayer & Carmichael, 1991). Learn more about the different Aztec ‘heavens’ by reading the full article...

Picture 2: Though the beautiful clay ‘trees of life’ made today in places such as Metepec have their (post-Conquest) origin in the Middle East, trees as sacred symbols have pre-Hispanic roots - from the Maya Popul Vuh story to Aztec tribute trees and the suckling tree above.

The Day of the Dead, Part 1

The Day of the Dead, Part 2

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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